People-First Language

Something I never thought about before Gracie was people-first language. I can’t put it in better terms than The Arc, an organization that advocates for people with disabilities, and also where Gracie gets her in-home therapy, so here is what they say:

“When we describe people by their labels of medical diagnoses, we devalue and disrespect them as individuals. In contrast, using thoughtful terminology can foster positive attitudes about persons with disabilities. One of the major improvements in communicating with and about people with disabilities is “People-First Language.” People-First Language emphasizes the person, not the disability. By placing the person first, the disability is no longer the primary, defining characteristic of an individual, but one of several aspects of the whole person. People-First Language is an objective way of acknowledging, communicating, and reporting on disabilities. It eliminates generalizations and stereotypes, by focusing on the person rather than the disability.”

Here is it in layman’s terms:


I know I didn’t talk like this before Gracie, because I never thought about it, but now that I have Gracie, I have noticed that the majority of people do not use person-first language. It’s not horrible to say “down syndrome child,” but isn’t it so much more appropriate to acknowledge the child or person first?

When I was pregnant with Gracie, I was anxious about her being born with Down syndrome. Now, I’m not anxious about her having Down syndrome, I’m anxious about how the world will treat her. I won’t always be able to be her mama bear in every situation, but I hope that one of the reasons God blessed us with our perfect Gracie, is so we can help spread the word that although she may be different than your child, she’s just Gracie. Different, and perfect…and like I said before, more ALIKE than different.

So there is your awareness for the day. I’ve been learning it too and have changed the way I talk to have more respect for the person and less emphasis on the differences.

Will you join me?

Posted in Down Syndrome, Gracie
5 comments on “People-First Language
  1. I will definitely join you! Love this post 🙂

  2. Debbie Atchley says:

    Well put Jamie!

    • Rhonda Gentle Posey says:

      Yes I will Jamie. My friend many years ago gave birth to a son with brain damage. One of God’s most beautiful baby ever. When I sit with him, I saw Phillip…he taught me so much. When I looked in his big brown eyes I could see my reflection in them. I felt as if God was telling me to look at my self. He went home to Heaven at 18 mos but he was a blessing. People don’t understand how much help is needed with some special Angels. People tend to shy away…they don’t know how to handle it. As you said they need to just see Gracie….I see Gracie. Love & Prayers for Gracie!

  3. karenzai says:

    I’ve been volunteering with kids with developmental disabilities, and now have a deep and profound respect for their parents and advocates! God bless you.

    And I thought you’d appreciate this:

  4. […] It’s this whole “People First” language thing, that I blogged about here. […]

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