Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Person First Language

I am in a credential program to get my Education Specialist Credential (a fancy way of saying special education). In all of my classes, on the first day of class, my professors go over person first language. As a Mom of a child with a disability I had never heard of person first language until I was in school and it surprised me. At the outlook it looks like a simple fix. Something that should be inconsequential but when you look at the ideology behind person first language I think it is really powerful. I encourage all of us to use person-first language. Not just for children with disabilities but for everyone.
Person first language is very simple. Instead of saying "sensory kid" or my "SPD son" you are suppose to put the PERSON FIRST and say "my son with SPD". The idea is that a child's disability or label should not define them. That a child is a person first and their characteristics are second.
I have discussed how I always worried about labels with Ryan. I was so concerned that people would not see Ryan and instead they would see a walking and talking IEP. I didn't want my son to be limited or looked down upon just because he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. In my head Ryan was Ryan and his diagnoses is just a part of who he is, a piece of the cake so to speak.
So when I first heard of person first language I was excited because I felt like people are trying to recognize the individuals beneath the diagnoses. Because as far as I know there are no two children with SPD that look alike.

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