I am a part of an amazing loop on Instagram that is devoted to spreading awareness and sharing the love we have for our sweet babes with different needs. Each week we try to answer a new question about our life and experience with our children with different needs and abilities. Please feel free to head over to my Instagram and follow the hashtag #raisinglittleworldchangers every Monday to see what we all have to say. Come on over and support our cause! It's pretty amazing!
This week's question that we will be answering is, "What terms to you like and dislike in associations to your child's diagnosis?"
I love this question and can't wait to see everyones response! Of course, I will be answering the question about Down Syndrome, but if you follow our loop you will see that there are all different kinds of kiddos with different abilities. And even the mommas of kiddos with DS, often have different answers and experiences so it's pretty great to see other people's outlooks.
There are without a doubt terms that I despise in reference to people with DS and then their are terms that I prefer, instead of others. People first language is very important to me because I don't want Stella to ever be defined by her diagnosis. Stella has Down Syndrome but she is not a Down Syndrome child. Stella is smart, funny, sassy, sweet, loving, and whole lot of fun. So, instead of saying, "That Down Syndrome girl," or "That Down's girl," you say, "That girl that has Down Syndrome." People first language matters!
I also don't believe that Stella is "special' because she was born with an extra chromosome. She's special to me because she's my child, in the same way that my boys are special to me. But I don't consider her a special child and I don't really like the term "Special needs." Her needs really aren't all that special, they just may be different than some of her peers. But don't we all have different needs, really?! None of us learn at exactly the same pace and in the same way. Some of us are really good at math (like my hubby), others are better with words (me), while others excel at science. You see, we all are different, not special, just different. Let me be clear, that "special needs" is not offensive to me but I prefer "different needs." I also prefer "differently abled" versus "disabled."
The terms that I've discussed so far are just preferences. I'm not angry, offended or sad when someone uses those words. But I believe it's important to educate others and for people to understand why words do matter. I want people to understand that when you put labels on children, those labels stick and become harder and harder to remove. Those labels begin to define that child when they absolutely should not. All people should be known and loved for who they are not how many chromosomes they have.
There is, without a doubt one word that I absolutely depise and that does get my blood boiling when I hear it. It literally has a physical affect on my body when I hear someone use this word. It's a special kind of hurt that only a mother of a child with different needs can understand. That word is, "Retard" or "Retarded." Honestly, it makes me sick to even type it out. PLEASE PLEASE, find another word! Here are a few words you could use to replace it: absurd, uncool, senseless, foolish, silly, ridiculous...
And no, it doesn't matter how you use it, it's still offensive and unnecessary. Find a new word!
Please share, tell a friend, email a coworker, etc. because when we know better, we do better!