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.