Sunday, October 20, 2013
I received an e-mail response to my post, Language Guidelines (day 15 of my
31 Days challenge). I thought her message was interesting and worth sharing.
She wrote the following:
I found your post, Language Guidelines, rather...interesting. :)
I so agree with what you wrote regarding the "nicer" ways to refer to disabled people, but you'd be surprised at how many families of these children refer kindly (with no ill intentions at all) to their family member as "my down's baby" or "my severely-burned child" or "my little handicapped boy." It usually takes me by surprise when they say it, and it's not a way I plan to refer to any of them -- ever. But I do understand that when they do it, they're not degrading their child, just pointing out which one. Still, what you posted was a great thought for someone who might never have considered this before.
One other thing I must say...as an explanation. I always refer to DS as "Down's syndrome" for a reason. It's not that I'm careless and haven't looked into the proper way to write it! When I read on your blog this morning that the correct way to write it is without an apostrophe, I quickly looked it up again. The first thing my computer brought up was this:
and the second thing was this:
I was glad because I knew the way I wrote it was correct, though it might not be the most common way today. Let me tell you why I prefer to write it the way I do....
:: Down's syndrome was first identified by Langdon Down.
:: Asperger's syndrome was first identified by Hans Asperger.
:: Alzheimer's disease was first identified by Alois Alzheimer.
These other two always are written with an apostrophe since they are named for the one who first identified them. Down's syndrome used to be written with an apostrophe, and it was dropped over the years. I still choose to use it for a reason.
Several different times I've been asked things like, "Is it normal for him to be so happy? Doesn't he have Down syndrome? Aren't those people usually 'down' acting?" (like downcast); or they've said things like, "He doesn't act like he has Down syndrome! He's so happy; he sure doesn't act 'down'!" This is when I was able to explain to these individuals that the name "Down's syndrome" came from the man who identified the disorder, not from the behavior of these people!!!
Personally, I feel that calling them people who have Down syndrome is degrading! They aren't Down! They just happen to have a disability that was first identified by someone who happened to have that name!
(Note: I obtained permission from her to quote what she wrote in her e-mail message to me.)
Do you have any comments or thoughts you'd like to share regarding my Language Guidelines post or this response to it? :)