autism · Down syndrome

Presidential Debate and Person-First Language


I had Facebook open in one screen last night, the debate opened in another. When President Obama said “autistic” the people in my autism community jumped and cheered. We were mentioned! The people in the Down syndrome community rebuked the president for not using “person-first” language.  Not one of my autism friends said a thing about it.

Later in the debate, Governor Romney said “disabled children” rather than “children with disabilities.” Again, people were mad.

I think we’re missing the point!

THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES! We’re on the radars of the both candidates! Why aren’t we happy about that instead of screaming and yelling about word order yet again?

Don’t we have bigger fish to fry?

8 thoughts on “Presidential Debate and Person-First Language

  1. "THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES!" I see you use person first language.Kidding. Let's tackle person first/diagnosis first/whatever first AFTER we determine that we're getting services, or that there's funding, or that we're part of the discussion. Because you have feet in both camps it gives you a unique understanding of the autistic agenda where others may not have it. I don't think it's widely understood that the ASAN prefers NOT to have person-first language.

  2. Thanks for posting this. It was on my mind this morning. We need to pick our battles. I am indifferent to the fact that the president used the word "autistic." I am glad he said it and now I want to see this awareness translated into resources for our children. This goes to both the GOP and the democrats. I admit that I was elated that he chose the autism demographic to make his point about medicaid. Romney said "disabled" yes but the whole voucher for special-needs kids thing…. meh!! That is all!!

  3. I heard him say that and (a) was happy that we are on the radar, (b) was happy that he used language favored by many self-advocates, and (c) sat back and waited for people to start bitching about person-first language.

  4. I saw one of the fb conversations you were in. I think it's hard, especially for the newbies, like myself. We are thrown into the world of special needs and the first thing we hear, bombarding our every move, is "people first language" "people first language" "must education the masses"!! You are the first I've heard/read telling us that it's only certain groups that are using people first. It has been driving me crazy to not say "my son is autistic" rather than "he has autism" (dual dx Ds-ASD). Really glad/relieved I can just say autistic w/o offending anyone in the autism community – really. It's been on my mind a lot lately. It gets to crazy with the labels and political correctness. So anyway, when A made the fb comment, she truly felt she was right – educating the masses. That's what we've been taught, and feels right now (in the Ds community). I think you were also correct in educating others reading that "people first" isn't always the case. When Romney was in charge of the Olympics, we had days of training. I was involved in training for the paralympics. You know what our entire first day's training was – "use people first language – ALWAYS!". Ha. Maybe it's different because the athletes all had physical disabilities not mental? I also saw a few other fb conversations on the subject – it almost seems that the Ds community is the only one still promoting people first – maybe we should just give up? and go back to the way it feels comfortable – as MM said – I'm a Ds mom – not a mom with a child who has Down syndrome 😉 Now I'm just rambling…

  5. I'm with MizKP – we need to pick our battles. I will jump to educate someone who *should* know better, but these two don't necessarily have a *connection* to the disability community, and so I'm very happy with the conversation that was had that included people with disabilities, no matter how they were mentioned. There was no offensive language. It was spoken from the heart. That's what matters.

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