Sharing a Mom’s Perspective on Person First Language

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by Heidi Kay,  PediaStaff Editorial Staff

So I was pinning away on Pinterest, looking around for items to put in our Autism pinboard, when I happened on a pin of this item available for sale on Cafe Press.

One of the pinners followers had written in the comments section, “This is sooo perfect!!! Wish I found this for Mac!”

I was fascinated that the pinner, (Rosie Sonnier) liked the bag so much given that the creators of the bag did not write in ‘person first’ language.   So, being curious and friendly, I commented on the pin, that “here at PediaStaff, we are very sensitive to always use ‘person first’ language” and that I was surprised she liked the bag given the amount of passionate opposition that we see and hear regarding this term.

Rosie wrote a lovely response that she asked me to share with you here:

Whom do you speak of that is constantly reminding you? In my opinion the word “autistic” is no different than the term “diabetic.” I am my son’s advocate and will not be a critic to those who lack the knowledge of “autism.” He has been called a “spoiled brat” among many other names in public. I am and will never be “offended” by stupidity, regardless of the subject matter. It is my job to “educate” and inform those who are not aware of the disorder. How can one be offended by an attempt to educate the public on autism? If parents, therapist and teachers of those with special needs would stop putting themselves in the first person of being “offended” and focus on the child or person with special needs, maybe we wouldn’t be having this discussion or feel the need to write articles on the topic. Priorities?     I am a military spouse to a Major Seargent at Camp Lejune, NC,  and my son is four years old named Mac. My son will always be “autistic” that is a part of him, I am not interested in “healing” him or changing anything about him.   We will learn to adapt to his world and not vice versa.   I highly encourage you to watch the documentary, “Loving Lamppost.” It will open your eyes to many parents and families who share my point of view.  Thank you for seeing my perspective and being willing to share it with others. Sincerely, Rosie Sonnier (Mac’s Mommy)

I don’t think Rosie objects to ‘person first’ language at all, but I do sense, (quite clearly!) that she is fed up with the posturing by (militant?) disability advocates to correct anyone who uses the term when it the use of that term was used in a context to educate and not disparage.

Thank You, Rosie for sharing with us!

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