People First Language

The new Gerber Baby has Down Syndrome. (He’s cute as a button, by the way. Really a great choice, in my opinion!)

But now that people are talking about little Lucas all across the United States, there are thousands of well-meaning fans being educated on a very important point:

Lucas is a “child who happens to have Down Syndrome.”  He’s NOT a “Down Syndrome Child.” 

This is called “people first language,” because it puts the noun FIRST in the sentence–which makes such a huge difference in the Universe that some special needs activists will spend literally hours annoying educating others about it.   (Oops, I suppose “special needs activists” isn’t People First Language.  What I should have said was “PEOPLE who happen to have a lot of time on their hands.”)

People First Language IS CRUCIAL–because many parents and special education professionals believe it’s crucial, and they’re right about everything.

If speaking nouns before adjectives is important to a parent then you better put that noun first, dang it! 

In fact, if you really, really want to show respect for a child with a certain characteristic, you won’t refer to him/her as a “child,” either.

Are people defined by their ages?! NO!

In that case, the correct way to refer to Baby Lucas is:  A person of a young age who also has a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

But, wait, maybe that’s still not specific enough?  What if Baby Lucas doesn’t identify as “human” when he’s older? What if he wants to be a pigeon or a walrus?

Maybe a safer and more respectful way to talk about Baby Lucas is as, “A Living Being who resembles a human person–but may not be–and happens to have a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.”   ?

Yeah. That sounds very warm and inclusive.

I’m so happy I’m an educated person… Er, I mean, a person who happens to have been educated…

Thanks, Language Police!  🙂

18 thoughts on “People First Language

    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      The person who inspired this post literally believes she is doing a good, noble thing for the “Down Syndrome Community.” (Uh…shouldn’t that be “Community of People With Down Syndrome???” How disrespectful!!!) 😉

      She genuinely doesn’t realize how ridiculous she comes across. Here’s the conversation on Matt Walsh’s Facebook post:

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  1. Jessica ruth

    Some people believe that respect starts with language. Some people believe that you should show respect for everyone. Some people believe that just because you don’t agree doesn’t make you anymore right. Some people believe that you should treat others how you want to be treated. The best part, is that this lady, while rude in ways is just trying to get you to see her side and you are so stuck in your own ways you can’t see both sides or the fact that you are willing to tell women not to get abortions but don’t care how others speak about kids who are alive. Fruit for thought😁

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Food for thought:
      I already understand the other side. That’s how I’m able to mock it so effectively… People’s intentions matter way, way more than their words. That’s why I laugh when ladies try to lecture me about “respect” when it’s clear they have none themselves.

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  2. Jessica ruth

    Yet you call yourself a christian and are able to mock the special needs community and how they want people to refer to their children? I believe that’s what she means about respect and you not showing any either.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Seriously? Nobody is mocking the special needs community… (And shouldn’t it be “Community of PEOPLE with Special Needs and Their Allies”?) I’m disagreeing that the language demonstrates respect or disrespect in this case. I’m trying to get the Language Police to look deep into their own motives and figure out why they’re choosing to be offended by things that aren’t meant to offend.

      It’s pretty obvious there are deeper issues when everybody in the thread–including me–used people first language the entire time, and yet I am STILL in trouble just for asking why it’s such a big deal. Clearly this isn’t about the children.

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  3. Jessica ruth

    If you have no problem using people first language and you do use it, then why do you have such a hard time understanding why people make a big deal when others don’t? Yes, there are many other things to be offended by, but why not show compassion that it does offend them. while they might not get offend at things you find offensive. Do you really find nothing offensive that you feel you need to stand up for it? I did read the tread and I’m also curious your take on the word nigger, while some people of color might not get offened by that word there are those that do, so shouldn’t we have respect for the people that do and not use it or tell those that get offended that they shouldn’t because I personally don’t find it offensive and there are other things to be more offened by?

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      If I find myself being upset by something, I try to figure out WHY.

      If I don’t have a good reason, then I work on letting it go, for my own health.

      For example, it bothers me when people are TRYING to be rude. (Like when a person calls me a bitch.) But–if someone isn’t TRYING to be rude, it becomes my responsibility to let go of my hang up. I believe that’s a healthier way to live.

      My original comment was just to let the sensitive people know how they come across. If you’re calling people names and threatening to punch them over words, that doesn’t actually help people with Down Syndrome. It doesn’t actually make the world a better place. Being less easily offended DOES make the world a better place.

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  4. Jessica ruth

    You have a superb way of answering without actually answering. I could be so wrong, but my guess is, no, you don’t use the word nigger due to the fact that you don’t want to offend someone but can’t actually say that or you would prove her point of we shouldn’t say things that might offend others. And I agree that others shouldn’t be so easily offended but we are talking about their children so I can see why it is a big deal to them.
    Isn’t this blog post basically telling others not to be the word police when here you are being the word police on them while mocking them ever so easily as you said? Do you have another post about bring women up and we should all stand together? I could be wrong and it wasn’t you but even still as a fellow Christian and women we shouldn’t be tearing another down and making blogs about how others should speak. We should stand together, united as one and show respect that we may have offended one another say sorry and move on.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      If I were a black person talking to my black friends, I probably WOULD use the word nigger… That happens all the time, and since it’s not meant to offend, it’s not offensive.

      Even as a white person, if I had a black friend who was close enough and who “gets me” I’d probably use it. (I have a friend with Autism who calls HIMSELF an “aspie” even though some people think it’s offensive.)
      Have you seen the guy on YouTube who has cerebral palsy and makes exercise videos poking fun at his own muscle weakness? He seems like a really cool person to hang out with…
      People who take themselves too seriously make others uncomfortable. I think mothers of children with special needs should know that and think about whether they’re really “educating” in a good way? Or if they’re making it harder for people to get to be comfortable around their children.

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  5. Jessica ruth

    People that don’t care they offened others also makes people feel uncomfortable and makes them wonder why they don’t care. Do they not care about me as a person with feelings of my own? What about your own kids, do you not care if they find something you say offensive, do you tell them to be offended of something more important. Or your husband? Can you not just acknowledge that you offened someone, say “I’m sorry I offended you” and move on? What is wrong with that?

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Yes–I tell my children not to be offended by accidents… I tell my kids to stop being so sensitive literally every day. 🙂 Now, when one of them is PICKING on the other, on purpose, that’s different. Usually when kids are fighting they’re both wrong because one of them is complaining about something small while another is INTENTIONALLY doing the small thing just to be a bully. (A few days ago, one of my kids was singing a song the other didn’t like. Both of them were in trouble, because the complainer was being too sensitive, and the singer started doing it louder just to be annoying.)

      But none of that is relavent here. I have nothing to apologize for, remember? Matt Walsh was the person who was being “educated” by several people–as if he was sitting in their personal living room and speaking only to them. He wrote something heartfelt about the beauty of people with Down Syndrome and how sad it is that they’re being aborted as such a high rate, and he said it for an audience of thousands (most of whom didn’t see a problem). But a few people took the opportunity to change the subject and make it all about their personal word preference. I saw what was happening and made my comment as a neutral party.

      I’ve been respectful of People First Language when talking directly to the people demanding it. But I’m trying to help them realize that most of the population doesn’t see a big difference, and there’s no reason to “educate” others and ask them to change when they haven’t done anything truly wrong.

      The people correcting his grammar weren’t technically “wrong,” either. But they DO seem to think the world revolves around them, so I wanted to point that out in case they want to be more respectful next time. Their complaint sounds just as silly to most people as when my daughter is yelling, “Stooooooooooop singing! I don’t like it!!!!!!” If they think it’s important enough to keep being sensitive and bossy and hijacking conversations to test and make sure others will meet their demands, that’s fine. But the rest of us will keep thinking we’re glad not ALL people with special needs are that way…

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  6. Jessica ruth

    It’s an accident the first time. Some people were never taught people first language and need to be educated on the subject. Again while others don’t care as Christians I believe we should show respect for everyone’s feelings no matter now trivial we find them. I would want someone to respect my feeling which is why I show it to others.
    You also say this mom is trying to educate others on people first language which is annoying but aren’t you trying to educate others on not being so sensitive and their feelings don’t matter? Hypocritical?

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      You don’t think we should show respect for everyone’s feelings. You think we should give priority to the parents of kids with special needs…

      This will be my last comment because I’m not getting anywhere. But the point of this post is to show just how trivial the language policing can get, if we take it logically. Most people haven’t been taught people first language just as most people haven’t been taught to say “Person of a young age who may identify as human.” But if a small group of people decide that’s how we SHOULD say stuff, does that mean all Christians need to start talking that way?

      I would say no. I think there’s a point where somebody’s trivial demands are TOO trivial. If people aren’t being disrespectful on purpose, then they’re not being disrespectful at all. There’s nothing to fix.

      I make sure my motives are pure and that I’m not intentionally hurting someone. After that, I will not be bullied, and I will speak up when others are using their kids as an excuse to bully others.

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  7. Jessica ruth

    This will be my last post as well, i don’t agree with much of what the other mother said but I do agree with her point of “glad you no longer work with the special needs community” since you feel so strongly to tell those mothers that feel people first language isn’t something to be offended by. And they don’t mean noun first as you joked as well. When you Google people first language this is what it says ❤
    People-first language is a type of linguistic prescription in English. It aims to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities and is sometimes referred to as a type of disability etiquette.
    If you have no problem with mothers defending the dehumanization of their children there is nothing more I could say anyways that could change that mind you have. I may, possibly, slightly also agree with her comment regarding your husband also. I’ll pray for you.

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