The “idea” of People First Language has been rolling around in my mind since Seth was first diagnosed with having Down syndrome. I can understand how it comes across to some when their child is described as a “Down’s kid,” (people don’t generally call a kid with cerebral palsy a “cerebral palsy kid”, or a kid with cancer, a “cancer kid”) but I think things can be taken too far.
Getting offended when someone does it, unless they are intentionally making fun of them, shouldn’t make us angry. I have told several people about “People First Language” but I make sure to tell them that it doesn’t offend me when it isn’t used, but it does offend other people. We can be sensitive to others reactions, but we also need to keep ourselves from thinking too highly of our situation. Everyone is NOT “out to get us.”
I am a part of a pretty big community of ladies who have just entered the “special needs” community, and I find a lot of them get offended pretty easily. I think part of it is the “mama bear” coming out in them, to defend their cub, and part of it is assuming that people are doing it purposely. Sometimes, people ARE being cruel and mean. Those people need to be educated on how to behave in general. Trust me, they aren’t just making fun of special needs kids. They are trying to build themselves up, and don’t care WHO they hurt.
Bottom line is, if someone dismisses Seth because he has Down syndrome, that is their loss, because he has an amazing personality, and Seth doesn’t need them in his life.
Here is another blog post that encouraged me to put my thoughts down on the subject: