Is person-centered language actually person-centered?
Thought for the week; do you know how the people you support want to talk about their disability? How they’d like to have their disability referred to in the context of themselves? I’ve never really questioned that before and realized it’s high time I did.
I was taught in a very similar manner as Sarah Levis, a writer on the Ollibean blog. In her article, Musing of An Autism Outsider: Realizing How Much I Didn’t Know, she discuses being taught to use person-first language. An example I use is ‘person(s) living with developmental disabilities’, or in Sarah’s case, ‘person with autism’. We do this because it affirms person-hood before disability. I was intrigued to read how many autistic self-advocates prefer to merge disability and identity.
Many autistic self-advocates see autism as a vital and integral part of their self concept. So it follows that they want to embrace it as part of their definition of person-hood as opposed to separating it. Phrasing like ‘Austistic’, ‘Autistic person’, or ‘Autistic individual’ are what they’re looking to see more of.
For a captivating discussion on the topic, read Lydia Brown’s article, The Significance of Semantics: Person-First Language: Why it Matters. Lydia runs an excellent blog called Autistic Hoya if you’re hungry for more awesome insights into autism.
All of this got me thinking about communicating with people about emotionally charged topics. How we define ourselves and talking about what we need from each other is tricky, tricky, tricky.
Have you heard of Brene Brown? If you haven’t heard her half hour lecture on The Power of Vulnerability, you should. It’s amazing. It’s all about building connection, empowerment, and ‘getting’ another person’s perspective. Which is valuable for anyone who needs to get in touch with another human being…which is all of us. 😀
Brene’s a frequent TED talker and has several books…but since most of live in a time starved universe, watch the following video. It’s an entertaining animated highlight reel of some her major points on communication and empathy.
P.s. If you followed the link to Brene’s lecture on vulnerability, it says it’s an hour long. The lecture itself is about 30 min, the rest is the Q&A with the crowd. All of it is great but if you’re short on time you only need a half hour to get all of Rene’s talk, not an hour.
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