Culture Featured

People First

April 3, 2017

I am a wife.  I am a daughter.  I am a dog mom.  I am a friend.  I am a School Psychologist.  While I am all of these; I am so much more.  I cannot be defined by one thing or one word.  There are several people in the world who have the same “I am” statements; however, if you were to meet all of us, you would soon find how alike, yet different we are.

People First Language

This is why it is so important we use people first language.  You may have heard the saying “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.”  While individuals on the Autism Spectrum have a common set of characteristics, they also have a wide range of strengths, weaknesses, needs, wants, and interests.  This is why saying comments like “he’s autistic” can be so hurtful and harmful.

Just as if you were only to tell people I am a wife, they would have no knowledge of all the other aspects of who I am.  All of my individuality would be lost; I would be lost.  I would be solely defined by one part of who I am.  Who wants that?

Almost one in every five people have a disability.  This is why it is so important to use people first language not only at school but at home, the mall, the grocery story, and everywhere you go in your life.  When you put the person first it helps acknowledge their needs and leads to understanding, but it also helps eliminate generalizations and discrimination.  This language is part of a bigger movement to help change the way people with disabilities have been historically represented and treated to a more inclusive and accurate portrayal.

If you want to be known for who you are versus all the labels assigned to you, then use people first language.  For example, instead of saying “he is Dyslexic” say “he has been diagnosed with Dyslexia.”  So remember the golden rule to treat others how you would like to be treated- as a person first.

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