Watch what you say; you never know who maybe listening.

Awhile back I forward on a wonderful post by a another mother of a precious little girl named, Rowenna. The blog talked about not referring to children with the diagnosis of Down Syndrome as “Downs Child” or “Down Child” or any other way where the diagnosis is the child and not something the child has.

Simply put, you wouldn’t call a child with chicken pox “Chicken Pox Kid”, an over weight woman as “Obese Woman” or a boy with cerebral palsy “CP boy”. These diagnosis don’t make the individual. The individual HAS the diagnosis.

That being said, after posting this particular blog, I received a comment from a friend of mine from Mabel’s Labels who mentioned a situation she was in where a mom of a child with Down Syndrome was head counting her kids and said “now, where’s my little downsy? oh, there he is”… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?

My friend commented that she was very taken back. She has experience with autism and made the comment that she has never heard anyone use the “hey, where’s my little autistic” phrase.

My biggest frustration with having a child with Down Syndrome is society’s genuine ignorance to these individuals, their capabilities and inturn how to change these perceptions. To have a parent call her child that in a public forum makes me sick to my stomach.

Person first. Diagnosis last. It’s not complicated; just common everyday respect.

This past weekend I had the privilege of meeting another family of a child with Down Syndrome while out celebrating Canada Day in true Club 21 style at the Goderich Canada Day Parade.
Please understand, this family is very supportive and excepting of their child and his diagnosis but still some family members are using inappropriate language. Referring to having “one of those kids” or “Downs kids” etc.
I have two big problems when I find myself in these situations. First, I get so hung up on the language they are using that I can’t hear the actual conversation. Even though I know they are trying to support our kids, their choice of words is so insulting and segregating that it negates all that they are trying to say. Second, I don’t know how to begin to correct their error without insulting them because again I realize in this case there is no ill intent. Give me a blog to vent on, fine. Let me rant on twitter, great. But put me face to face in a situation that’s supposed to be fun and positive and I clam up.

Teaching “People First Language” is great and very important but how do you have that conversation in a face to face situation without insulting the uneducated speaker?

And for all those parents who should know better, I challenge you to choose your words carefully. You never know who may be listening.

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Posted on July 3, 2012, in Down Syndrome, Just my thoughts, My Ladybug and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I actually hear a lot of parents call their child with Autism or Asperger’s Autie or Aspie, not their real name. A lot of the parents don’t use people first language, and when I ask, they say they have more important things to worry about than that. And I know of a blogging mom (not sure if she still blogs – unfollowed long ago) that calls her daughter her little “Downsie” and defends it because ‘it’s cute’. Well, not to me. I will never call my daughter that.

  2. Jen….whenever someone uses the term “one of those kids” or something similar in reference to my daughterI usually respond by saying “Oh you mean, one of those blond haired, blued eyes beauties.” It is a tough call though, I understand where you are coming from and where your heart is.

  3. I feel like I’m FOREVER encouraging people first language – I remember learning about it in university and thinking that it was pure genius! I do find it used most with autism however, “autistic” has just been used for so long it’s hard to change, but we must one person at a time! We had to watch Patch Adams in our first ever university class – he’s a great example of getting to know the person before the disease or disability!

  4. I have referred to Everleigh as having downs but never being downs. And if I ever heard someone refer to one of our kiddos as downsy, I would need a lawyer and some bail money.

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