Pay attention to language in describing special needs

Keywords Opinion

As someone who has worked with agencies like Easter Seals Crossroads in the past and currently the Champions Together program for Special Olympics Indiana, I was delighted to see your article in the Aug. 10 edition regarding the financial-planning challenges parents of children with disabilities face [New help for parents of disabled]. The most heartbreaking statement I have heard, and I’ve heard it more than once, has been, “I need to live 10 minutes more than my child.”

Well done, and thanks to the IBJ for bringing this topic to the business community.

In a time when “political correctness” is taking a political beating, I’m just going to throw out there that the community of individuals with or caring for those with special needs are particularly sensitive to some of the language describing them that few of us really think about. The main guideline is, “Always put the person first and their disability second”—for example, “someone with a disability” instead of “someone who is disabled.” They spend an enormous about of time cultivating “ability.”

Thanks again for a great article.

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Patricia J. Pickett
Noblesville


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