Autism Speaks in Person-Centered Language

photoDid you see 60 Minutes last night? They did a very informative segment on autism, in which they used only person-centered language. I heard only kids with autism, people with autism, kids without autism, and when someone has autism. I never once heard the word autistic. The autism community has figured out the importance of putting the person first and they are consistent with using person-first language.

I’m aware of language bcause it’s my passion and my work. What is so impressive about the use of person-first language in autism is that everyone from parents to news reporters to Sesame Street characters is using it. Clearly, it’s catching on.

So why are we so much slower to adopt this in diabetes? There could certainly be many reasons, and I don’t pretend to know the answer. Regardless, health care professionals and people living with diabetes alike can help with the language movement in diabetes. Not only is diabetic not person-centered, it’s not helpful. It makes people think of all the stereotypes linked to diabetes, and doesn’t build on people’s strengths.

Just as children with autism are no longer likely to know the effects of being called autistic, I hope that one day, when someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they will never hear the word diabetic.

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