31 for 21: P is for People First Language

People first language is a new concept to me. It’s not a hard one to understand since the definition is in the name. It’s when you speak about someone’s differences in a way that puts the person first. For example, Hannah is a child with Down syndrome, not a Down syndrome child.

In August, our local NBC affiliate station posted a story on their FaceBook page that immediately received a slew of nasty comments thanks to the headline they used. I can’t remember the exact wording but it was something like “Blind and Autistic 14 year-old has voice of an angel. Within 30 minutes the headline was changed to “14-year-old Christopher is blind and has autism – but he also has the voice of an angel” and the comments bashing the station were deleted.

I doubt whoever posted the story on the FaceBook page planned to offend the boy. I think the majority of the population is unintentionally ignorant to people first language. I know I was. With our new invitation to the World of Special Needs I realized I’ve said a lot of things wrong, like saying someone is autistic when I should have said that he or she has autism/ASD or is on the spectrum.

I’m sure the FaceBook commentators meant well, but their approach was all wrong. If I’m speaking to someone and they don’t use the preferred language, I do my best not to attack them about it. I want to fight ignorance with awareness, not attitude.

We have two sick kids in the house this weekend. Hannah has a new cold and it hit her hard Friday. She was a little booger factory and daycare said she had trouble with her bottles and didn’t want to lay down. Pete and I had plans for another flag football game and debated whether or not Hannah should go. I think the fresh air helped clear her out because she’s much less congested this morning. She also seemed to like watching everyone running around and had her first ride on a playground swing.


While we were at the game, Gamy was resting comfortably with Grandma and Grandpa. At some point Thursday night Gamy’s body flipped a switch on her. She went from her goofy, silly normal self to lethargic, sad, and barely interested in her doggy ice cream. Friday morning she was even worse. She put her head in my lap and when I got down on the floor with her she put it up against mine, almost like she was trying to telepathically tell me she was hurting. Thankfully Grandma was able to take Gamy to the vet for us, where she got a shot of amoxicillin and a 4 week course of antibiotics. The vet said it’s most likely some sort of tick-borne illness and will show up on her routine blood work. The amoxicillin made a big difference and Gamy is almost back to normal.

Pete’s fishing tomorrow and my plan is to relax with the girls. Hannah’s pretty excited about rockin’ her new Patriots onesie. I’ll be sure to post a picture.

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