Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5 (kind of a cop out but it's 10:15pm...)

I do try and make as many posts during this month meaningful, but in the end the whole point of the challenge is to spread awareness and as is often the case in education, sometimes that means just laying out the facts.  What I'm going to post today is something that I believe in, but don't get hung up on.  As I've written and said so many times before, unless you're trying to offend me, you probably won't, but that doesn't mean there aren't certain preferred ways to say things.  Mostly I try and share this information so that should someone out there come in contact with an individual with DS or an individual's family, they don't later feel bad for having said the wrong thing.  I know I shared this last year, but repetition is key to remembering and maybe I have some people reading now that weren't a year ago.  So here it is, the preferred language of DS (compliments of the NDSS).

  • People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Instead of "a Down syndrome child," it should be "a child with Down syndrome." Also avoid "Down's child" and describing the condition as "Down's," as in, "He has Down's."
  • Down syndrome is a condition or a syndrome, not a disease.
  • People "have" Down syndrome, they do not "suffer from" it and are not "afflicted by" it.
  • Down vs. Down's - NDSS uses the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down's syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an apostrophe s), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an "apostrophe s" connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. The AP Stylebook recommends using "Down syndrome," as well.
  • While it is still clinically acceptable to say "mental retardation," you should use the more socially acceptable "intellectual disability" or "cognitive disability." NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory context. Using this word is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent.

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