People First Language

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by kevo2005, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. kevo2005

    kevo2005 Companion

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    Hello, this post isn't meant to be rude. However, I have been reading through the special education forum and I am kind of shocked by the lack of people first language. As a doctoral student in special education and an educational diagnostician, I am constantly reminding teachers and the students of the class I teach at the University to use people first language. (Heck, students lose 15 points right away for not using people first language).

    For anyone that doesn't know what that is, I can email you the article I make all my students in the "exceptional individuals" class read.
     
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  3. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Most people in the deaf community prefer deaf people than people who are deaf. They don't like the term hearing impaired. There are different groups though. Views from the deaf community are different than people who lost their hearing much later in life, for example or sometimes even people who never socialized with other deaf. There is a variance. But in general, the term "deaf people" is socially acceptable and preferred. Being deaf is actually something they are proud about.

    Edit to add: I missed that this group was already discussed. I also like the way it was phrased in the post above me.
     
  4. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I'm going to take this concept to another level. Sometimes it isn't the language of this phrase that is an issue as much as working within a deficit model during the entire conversation. I much prefer people talk about the things all people relate to, their hobbies, their interests, their wishes, their strengths, etc. more often than spending the focus on the perceived disability. It is okay to do at within the context of learning but I find people in the field get hung up on only discussing the deficit models. In reality, to me, people first means that you see them as a whole functioning being first before you see where they need supports.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Love this, cut.

    As educators, we need to remember that we are teaching individuals--each with their own strengths and needs. A label (Autism, Learning Disability, etc) doesn't define our students, nor does it tell us what their needs will be. We need to get to know the people we are working with.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The teachers on the special Ed forums here have the best intentions, caring and empathy for their students' learning. While you have your preference as to how to refer to students, it does seem there are mixed feelings about 'people first' language among both professional educators and those who have disabilities/special learning needs.

    Discussing the need to use appropriate language, to be informed of current trends in special education, and utmost respecting the needs of our learners is commendable, Kev, and should be reflected upon by your students. However, one does wonder about your policy of deducting 15 points for those who don't buy into your language requirements...especially given what was shared above by some of the dedicated professional educators here ( guess they would lose those points:eek:)
     
  7. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I love this topic though. I hope other people chime in.
     
  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I was taught to use people first language in my grad program. I always try to, but I make the occasional slip. I tend to notice when others do not use people first language, but it doesn't usually bother me, unless its clear that they have an attitude against accepting people with disabilities. The attitude bothers me much more than the specific language itself. :2cents:
     
  9. anewstart101

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    I am a teacher and a parent of a child who happens to be diagnosed with autism. I use people first language all the time. I don't get offended if people don't depending on context.

    Alot of my parent friends refer to their child as autisitic. I don't since his autism does not define him.

    The looks and the comments bother me much more.

    Someone once told me my son did not belong in public. He felt sorry for me.

    Just because I use people first language I am not neccessairly going to correct someone who does not.

    Stephanie
     
  10. MrShiva

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    I just want to share this. Here in the Philippines, where special education is just starting , some people or even students called person with disabilities as "SPED". Some of countrymen thought that using this word (SPED) is the right term for calling all people with disabilities, which I think is wrong. I was invited to a conference in my school to talk about special education and one of the things that I shared to them was using people first language.
     
  11. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    For the record, I do try to use it, but sometimes I'm in conflict with it because I'm not sure how that group wants it. If I do know, I respect the group's wishes. But it is impossible to know what's right for every group thus the bottom line is that approach and attitude is more key. I try not to get too hung up on it except in more formal or new situations where I do not know the accepted application. The truth is, it doesn't apply to every group. At the same time, we have to make sure that we focus on the real goal--acceptance, integration, and treating people like people rather than diagnoses.
     
  12. TeacherNY

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    This is how I feel. I guess if the OP wants to preach to his class then that's his perogative but it seems like here he is talking down to professional adults unnecessarily.
     
  13. FourSquare

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    :2cents:
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    One more thing I want to share. One of the reasons I chose my current work place is the pervasive use of REAL people first language. It is immediately noticeable. All the polite terms in the world cannot make up for people focusing on the disability rather than the person.

    I told someone the other day that I noticed one client does not like to be touched and other sensory stuff as well. She told me I was right on target with that but you know what she does love? Halloween is her favorite holiday. Not Christmas or other holidays. Just Halloween. She will draw Halloween stuff all year long.

    How neat! Now I have a connection and can tell her my child is building a haunted house for his first job! I also have some pictures from my Halloween days in Japan and can share those. I am curious what it is about Halloween she loves so much. It's always been my least favorite holiday. Tell me more! When my child comes to do a magic show for them, I want him to tell her about what it is like to design a haunted house.

    Oh my! That just gave me an idea for community integration! She'll love it!

    Another client notices everyone's fashion. I bet she would LOVE to go to a fashion show!

    There are paintings all over our office from what clients have done and they are just amazing!

    Another gentleman wants to work with another staff who is ready to spin off and create a nonprofit organization to support those in orphanages. To prepare for this endeavor, we have held fundraisers so he can go abroad to visit a variety of them and study them.

    Sure they need support, and this organization's goal is to provide that, but each of them has a life and interests that are unique to them. THAT is people first.

    THAT is people first.
     
  15. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I want to thank the OP for bringing this topic up. I know the tone that was used wasn't necessarily the best way to convey the topic and while people are reacting to that, I think it gives us an opportunity to explore the topic more in depth. Who knows. Maybe the OP will grow from this experience as well. It is important as educators to reflect.
     
  16. bros

    bros Phenom

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    I will usually use person-first language when speaking or writing in a formal setting. However, informally, I tend to use both.
     
  17. Special-t

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    Me too! Here on the forum it's sometimes easier to type quick responses that are not in people-first language.
     
  18. deefreddy

    deefreddy Companion

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    much more than people first

    Calling for "people first" language is confusing for many lay people. Many people have no idea what you are talking about unless they are in the sped business. I agree with Bella, it's the attitude that needs to change more than the labels. I sat through retirement parties where the special education teacher was lauded, by other teachers, administrators, and parents as being a "saint" for working with "those" kids for her entire career. Of course, the general education retirees were being lauded for innovative lessons, caring that each and every student was successful, yada yada.

    When I tell other people what I do for a living, I often hear, "You must be so patient to work with those disabled kids." Correcting their non-people first language by saying, "you mean, I must be patient to work with kids with disabilities" would leave them scratching their head and wondering if I have a hearing problem. Instead, I have learned to smile and say, "Yes, I have the best job in the world!" instead of bopping them on their well-meaning head.
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    :thumb:
     
  20. EdEd

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    Yeah, and I don't think person-first language has been around forever, so literature may not necessarily be up to date. If you read really old journal articles you'll still the word "negro" for example - some things just haven't been changed.
     
  21. kevo2005

    kevo2005 Companion

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    We have differences of opinions. I feel it's important to use. If IDEA feels its important enough to reauthorize using people first language then I feel upcoming students (future educators) to use it. Just my opinion, wasn't trying to cause a controversy.
     
  22. bros

    bros Phenom

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    The only course where people were actually marked down for not using person-first language was the course where we were taught about it in Junior Year.

    After that, if we slipped up, we wouldn't have points deducted, but a quick note would be written next to it saying to remember to use person first language
     
  23. Zelda~*

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    ADD moment here, and I do apologize:

    The label "Emotionally Disturbed" annoys me regardless of where we put it. I wish we could rename it.

    Jimmy's a student with an Emotional Disturbance, doesn't really sound any better than Jimmy's Emotionally Disturbed.

    /ADD moment. :)
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    That one I agree with that one.
     
  25. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Yeah, the federal classification being "Emotional Disturbance" is a bit old-school, like how MR was the classification for so long.
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Emotional Disturbance in my state is SIED- significant identifiable emotional disability. I think it's a bit better since it doesn't have the word "disturbance" in it. On the other hand, our MR classification is SLIC- significant limited intellectual capacity. I think it's just as bad if not worse than MR...I hate explaining to parents at meetings what it stands for! Supposedly that's being changed to ID (intellectual disability) soon though.
     
  27. Zelda~*

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    I'd prefer SIED. Sounds like your state is ahead of Ohio!

    I think with "disability" instead of "disturbance" we'd have fewer gen-ed teachers "freak" and ease the sting for parents.
     
  28. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Or we could just get rid of labels altogether and just talk about how to specifically help kids :)
     
  29. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:
     
  30. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    :thumb:
     
  31. bros

    bros Phenom

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    I agree, but I think the labels serve a small amount of purpose. Not much, but they have a small amount of use.
     
  32. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Agreed bros. I do think they fill some needs, though I think there aren't any needs that couldn't be otherwise met. Still, there's no doubt they do provide some function.
     
  33. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    People First was really enforced when I was a social worker. You are right that teachers don't seem to use the People First Language as much. But, I don't think that we mean any harm. I think it's all about how or what you actually say about the individual. I'd rather hear someone say, "That Autistic Kid is so smart and talented" than "The kid who happens to have Autism is just a spoiled brat." JMO.
     
  34. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    In the People First Training, they teach you that labels serve one purpose only: To get people the correct services.
     
  35. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Because they don't get correct services otherwise?
     
  36. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    ??? That's just what they teach.
     
  37. Special-t

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    Yes. A student might not get correct services if not given a correct eligibility label. These labels serve to make sure services are set in motion.

    For instance, HOH - hard of hearing. The label alerts staff and service providers. It's an indicator that sets services in place. If for some reason the services aren't needed, they would be discontinued. But it helps eliminate a need being overlooked for lack of a descriptor. It's like a medical label that gives staff a quick idea of what the patient most likely needs. If a student is eligible as ED, they will automatically qualify for psychological services and the label alerts staff that this student might have needs and reactions that are out of the ordinary. A student with an elgibility label of AUT, sets services in action that a student with the label of LD - learning disabilities - may not need.

    These labels are meant to be clinical, not personal.
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So using the term 'autistic student' gets different services than a 'student with autism'? Not in my school. I'm not reading 'people first' as correctly or not correctly categorizing a disability, just as making an effort to view the student as a student...who happens to have a classified need...
     
  39. Special-t

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    I think this thread is also addressing the concept that some people-first advocates also advocate no label all. The label being referred to in the case of getting services is just a categorization, usually represented by initials on a document, such as AUT or SLD. Clinicians and special education teachers use labels on documents but are encouraged to use people first language when speaking.
     
  40. Verstpac

    Verstpac New Member

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    I am autistic

    I was diagnosed with high functioning autism as a toddler and I spend my childhood in sp. ed (until 9th grade). I never use people first language (PFL) when talking about myself or other autistics.

    When I was a child my mother would insist PFL until, when I was a teenager, I made it clear I wanted to be referred to as "autistic." My autism is a part of me. I can't change that. But I can change my shirt. One day I can be the "woman in the yellow shirt" the next day I can be the "woman in the blue shirt" and the next day I can be the "woman in the red shirt" but my autism cannot be separated from me.

    And in the English language we always put the adjective before the person (e.g. athletic teenager vs. teenager who loves sports, gifted child vs. child who has talents, irresponsible parents vs. parents who lack responsibility, military wives vs. women with husbands in the military) and what is different about disability? Just like my ethnicity cannot be separated form me, neither can my autism.

    And do you seriously take 15 points away because someone said "autistic" instead of some politically correct language?:mad: That's just stupid.
     

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