What Language do you Speak? {4th of July}



I’m usually one to stay clear of the smaller issues on this journey, as I am in reasonable understanding that their are much larger battles to advocate or pray for {take your pick}. The abundant Joy and Blessings within our life trump over them so I’ll try to be clear and straightforward. I find it incredible that what I once thought where the smaller issues  now grow as the depth of my understanding, love and awareness journey on.

You see, the language being spoken around me is ringing in my ear and from time to time the noise hits a high pitch and I must decide to fight or flight. I hear things, spoken to me, as I pass by or through the grape vine. Whispers, posts, friendly exchanges, therapy sessions, professionals, doctors, the educated and powerful, the unknowing and well meaning, the curious and interested, and the misinformed. I was there at one time too.

I hear them all speaking, but far to often in a language that doesn’t work with this mamma, for those who can’t speak up for themselves and most importantly into the ears of our young impressionable children. Our little sponges (I mean Children) …soaking up our every word.

I hear things like “Your the girl with the Downs Baby”, “I have a Downs Brother In Law”, “Did you hear she has a Down Syndrome child” “Most downs children….”  “He’ downs”

All of this is not preferred or acceptable in terms of….

People First Language.

I thought the 4th of July post would be the perfect time to share People First Language with you, what it is and why it matters…. and what it means to you. What seems like common sense to some to others this may be new. If that is you, welcome and thank you for reading on. Change starts with you.

Why does it matter? Well for a second put yourself in my shoes, you have a child born of your body (or gifted from God via adoption), your blood, your life and heart that walks outside your body. Your child is far more than any diagnosis or description of it, your child has a name first, passions and personality. Imagine if your child is referred to constantly as a diagnosis, it skips over everything else that encompasses who they are and right to the one thing that society has already made broad and typically misinformed assumptions on.

This breaks my motherly soul. His name is Grady. He is my Son. He is Love. He is Joy. He is Hope. He is a Gift. He giggles. He smiles. He crawls. He says DaDa…. it goes on and on.

My cousin who is in her early 20’s has severe reflux, I don’t refer to her as my reflux cousin. My dear Grandmother who has cancer is not my Cancer Grandma. My cousin also has an outward diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy and he is not my CP cousin, he is Rich.

Your “down’s brother in law” has a name, your grandmother’s fourth removed cousin in law has a name, speak it first. People First.

A piece of my heart walks outside of my body in my Grady and he is not { Down’s } as this shows ownership of the syndrome over him. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. (NDSS)

I love that we live in Country that gives us the opportunity to share, grow and learn. A Country that has the huge opportunity to show respect to individuals in the way of utilizing People First Language. I love that I follow a Jesus that shows me forgiveness and understanding in a way I so desperatley need when the moment of fight or flight happens.

NDSS Preferred Language Guide

  Why does this matter to you?

How we speak about and refer to others ultimately shapes our society. The words we speak now will echo into the future. We are communicating all over the place this day and age via blogs, facebook, texting, book, magazines and twittering…the black and white words leave a virutal and physical footprint…will yours leave a trail leading towards People first language and respect?

This isn’t about being politically correct, its about respect and being kindly aware. It’s about laying the foundation because you care, because you love and want to understand even when you don’t all the time.

Will you People First? 

Will you pray for my patience as we start this journey together? I understand you won’t always get it right,  we all slip but that can’t stop the pursuit of change.

Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day… today we can break free from worn out language and move towards Respect.

This is Grady and he has Down Syndrome.

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12 thoughts on “What Language do you Speak? {4th of July}

  1. Pat Kobylensky says:

    Once again, Erin, you are spot on! Bob and I just read your post, and we feel enlightened and educated. We needed to learn about people first language. Thank you for teaching us.

    Happy 4th!
    Bob and Pat

  2. Jocelyn Cook says:

    Thank you for writing this. I find myself so often sharing the concept of People First Language – so many need to be educated. Heck, I needed to be educated when we first received Julia’s diagnosis! But now I know, and now many others know because of your thoughtful post. We press on in educating and sharing that our children are just that, beautiful children, not a diagnosis. Thank you!

  3. joy says:

    I am sharing this with people in the teacher credentialing program at Brandman University, Walnut Creek, California campus. The specific course is, “Collaboration for Inclusive Schooling.” People-first language is important. Thank you.

    • Erin Ski! says:

      Yes susan, feel free to share away. I debated how to end it for a while, you are right I could have just said This is Grady.. that would have proven my point just as well! Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

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