View Full Version : person first language please! :)

05-06-07, 02:28 PM

I'm a Special Education Assistant and an adult with ADHD. I have a BA in psych from the University of British Columbia, and have 10 years of teaching experience in various settings/situations - I have taught all ages of people and abilities.

One thing that was mentioned in my courses to be certified as an SEA was the proper use of "person first language". I'd never thought about how we "label" people... and then I understood.

We are people FIRST.
I'm not ADHD. I *HAVE* ADHD.
So it's not "ADD/ADHD child" or "ADHD girl", but

student with ADHD
boy/girl with ADHD
adult with ADHD
girlfriend with ADHD

I also have a learning disability... and an anxiety disorder. I am not these conditions. I am a person first.

You wouldn't say I am cancer, I am diabetes. There is no word at present like "diabetic" for ADHD, so it's important to clarify the student comes first.

It's especially important when a child already feels as though the condition is forefront to everything that s/he does wrong.

Is it nitpicky... yes.
but we have to be, we're dealing with children.
Let's put the children first, not the disability.

I love working with kids who have a LD or ADHD because I always let them know I have it too. I don't get mad at them when they come up with random comments or have trouble keeping their minds still. I love the ridiculous conversations I have with them, they're fun, and I point that out. I don't get irritated with them, they can't help it, just as I can't help it myself.

But I still got through school, university, and am working in the school district. I have talent working with the kids who have behavioural challenges, which is great b/c that's a category that a lot of SEA's do not like to deal with.

That being said, the kids are on fast forward... but they are KIDS FIRST.

Please reflect that in your language.
I know not everyone thinks it's a big deal, but it is. Parents, teachers, administrators, please try to change the perception.

Thanks for reading.


05-06-07, 04:37 PM
If you can't see your students as human beings first, how can you teach them? I live by this rule. Even the toughest kid has a marshmallow somewhere inside. When you respect each student, are caring, and genuine with them, wall get broken down.

In my classroom there is no name-calling, no put-downs, no prejudice allowed. I am preparing them for life and hopefully they will take what I teach them about this and treat others as human beings first, spreading the ripples of appreciation for each person's differences, uniqueness, and talents! The classroom should be a safe place where students feel welcome. Then they can get down to the business of learning-this is the only way they will really be able to learn!

Remember Abraham Maslow? If your physical needs are not met, if you do not feel safe-emotionally or physically, and if you do not feel like you belong or are accepted as a person of value in the classroom, students will be unable to gain a healthy self-esteem and self-concept of themselves as learners or even capable of learning. Then they will never reach self-actualiztion-the becoming of the full self, able to achieve and sustain life goals and ambitions.

Thanks, great thoughts and a vital perspective!