Breaking Down Bad Language

The special needs community has seen centuries of improper treatment due to stereotypes, misconceptions and more. Simply due to a birth injury or otherwise unavoidable circumstance, children who are otherwise intellectually capable or advanced are treated horribly due to a stiff arm, a limp, vocal challenges, etc. Advances have taken place in how special needs are approached, with shifts in the law, social norms and more. However, there is still more work to be done and we are motivated to be a part of that change.

One key area in which work still needs to be done is in the realm of the language used to describe those with special needs. Our friends at The Mighty recently published a post on how to address someone’s use of the “r-word” that is a great example of advocacy: taking a stand while doing so in a respectful manner. While the onus should not be on parents to correct the world, more impact is often made when an honest, polite representation of the problem is presented. What’s more, sadly, there are far too many people who do not understand the problem associated with its usage and that they are perpetuating an issue with their loose language.

This concept of loose language is actually the basis of our Disability Etiquette and Proper Terminology page on our website. Available by clicking here, this overview highlights the sort of language that has entered as part of the norm and includes a wealth of information, including organizations dedicated to help from across the world and more. 

Sometimes pre-empting poor behavior can be a helpful tool to avoid situations before they arise. We have put together a number of blog posts and site content about speaking with family about concerns related to their language and behavior around a child with special needs that can be helpful, both before the holidays as well as for everyday events:

Our final suggestion is to simply promote awareness and advocacy wherever you can. Frank, polite conversations that capture your experience and show that you are a parent of a loved child can be bridge point to help people understand the human condition behind the condition; a brighter future is made possible when differences are explained and stigmas/incorrect beliefs are torn down through real-life examples.

For more information on encouraging advocacy or speaking to family about Cerebral Palsy and how certain terms can be destructive, contact us today online or by calling (800) 692-4453.