Relevant Descriptors

Whether it’s out of the brokenness within our human nature or simply how we as humankind categorize and identify the world around us, we tend to identify others first by how they are different from us as though the difference is most relevant. This happens far too often in the area of special needs. We mention a person’s disability or diagnosis even when it’s not relevant to the conversation. For example, if you are recommending a hairstylist who happens to have ADHD or a prosthetic leg, mentioning the disability isn’t really relevant to their skill as a hairstylist. That fact is neither relevant nor respectful. A simple guide for the future is to ask yourself, “Is this information really relevant to the conversation?”

Words to Lose vs. Words to Use

When describing a person who has a disability, the descriptors we choose can be thoughtful or hurtful. Here are some more thoughtful alternatives to use when describing a disability:

Person-First Language

Words can be one of the most powerful ways in communicating dignity to each other. When it comes to the area of special needs, always put the person before the diagnosis. For example, rather than saying, “special needs people,” say “people with special needs.” This kind of person-first phrasing can give dignity to a person with special needs. Also, whenever you are able, use their name. You would rather be known by your name than by your haircut or shoes. No one wants to be known as “the balding man” or “the long-legged lady.” Next week’s article will get a little more in depth on this subject.

Being a Parent: My Child with Special Needs

What I want you to know about being a parent of a child with special needs is that they have beautiful things to offer you and the rest of the world. It can be exhausting advocating for my child and educating others on their gifts and needs everywhere we go, not just school, but church, in the community, and even with our friends. It’s hard for others not to make assumptions when they see my child on the outside. These assumptions can harm my child and make them feel less than. But it brings tears to my eyes when others welcome and enjoy my child in even the smallest ways because I love my child and hope you enjoy them too.”

Ideas for Including

Here at CWC, we believe Christ has invited every one of us to His table and His mission. And He has given each of us gifts and dependencies that help bring the Good News into this world. Those of us who have special needs are not only included, but essential to this mission. So, our church is committed to making space at the table and in the field for our brothers and sisters with special needs.