For nearly 20 years, I have taught courses in inclusive education within the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. One of the points I share with my students is the need to use "people first language." This means that when referring to a person with a disability, we try to not use the disability as a qualifier; because when doing so, the disability becomes the defining characteristic of the person.
People with disabilities live with their disabilities, but their disabilities do not define them.
So, for example, we try to say "child with Down's syndrome" instead of "Down's child" or "child with Autism" instead of "autistic child." Other examples include: "child with a learning disability" instead of "learning disabled child" or "person with a mental illness" rather than "mentally ill person."
I believe that those working with people with disabilities like teachers, psychologists, principals, and medical professionals need to lead by example. The same is true for the media.
Together, let's be powerful and effective advocates for people with disabilities!
For more information, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People-first_language
Dr. Jillian Roberts is the author of the best-selling “Just Enough Series” published by Orca Book Publishers. The next book in the series is “What Makes Us Unique? Our First Talk About Diversity” which launches September 27th.