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Thursday, July 5, 2007

"Her Condition"

When you live in the land of disability, you quickly realize that there is a fine line of politically correct terminology to be walked. Sometimes, I'M confused with which words are offensive. To make matters worse, some people prefer one terminology, when the next person is offended by the same word.

For example: When we first found out about Ellie's CP, I started to categorize children as either "normal" or "disabled". I always flinched at the term "normal", because who's to say that Ellie isn't? After doing some reading, I embraced the term TYPICAL as a way of describing non-disabled kids.

I also loathe the phrase "Something's wrong with her..." There is nothing WRONG with Ellie. I think that you ask the question, "What's wrong with you?" when someone is being stupid. And, of course, Ellie's not stupid.

I can accept the term handicapped (although some parent's don't appreciate that term either...), and, as you all know from reading my blog entries, I'm perfectly fine with using the word "disabled" when referring to Ellie.

Yesterday, a very annoying family member asked me, "Do you normally point out HER CONDITION to other people?" It was the first time that anyone had phrased it that way. It made me feel uncomfortable and ticked off. Perhaps it was because of the source (he is sooo very obnoxious), but the more I've thought about it, the more disgusted I've become. I just HATE how "Ellie's condition" sounds. Am I being overly-sensitive?

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.


Richard said...

The phrase "consider the source" comes to mind here... but I'm not fond of that way of putting it either.

Peitricia Mae said...

I've often thought that terminology matters less than intent (although it certainly does matter). E tells me proudly about how they learned about "the Indians," while others will sneer with derision about "drunk Natives."

My MIL can't bring herself to say "black people" because she worries about the political implications and so alternates between "negro" and "African-American" (discussing Canadians).

Words in and of themselves are powerless. It is the intent with which they are (and have historically been) used that lends them power. Consider the rehabilitation of the word "queer."

The Duncans said...

I think I'd rather have somebody say, Logen's condition rather than, "he's just not right" (My MIL says that). I agree with PM saying "words ... are powerless". {{HUGS}}

The Mitchells said...

I have often wondered how to ask someone else what their child's diagnosis is...without implying that their child would HAVE a diagnosis. When I'm at our therapy location there are 10-20 kids there and you end up wanting to ask what their child "has", but I'm STILL not sure how to ask.

Kathryn said...

I think in general people are pretty ignorant about disabilities. It makes them uncomfortable and that discomfort makes them act badly. Then you get all of that in someone who acts badly any way and they say things that are even more stupid then the norm.

Handicap as a term comes from at term used to describe injured war veterans (not sure which war - maybe WWII) who were allowed to beg on street corners for financial assistance because they had become disabled as soldiers. They would stand on the street cap in hand, hence handicap. Great how we consistently as a country take really good care of our soldiers who fight for our safety (sorry for the sarcasm)!

But terms do matter. Privacy matters as well and that usually clashes with insensitivity. I am trying to get better at the quick, informative retort to dumb comments. It's hard though.

But I agree with you wholeheartedly - there is absolutely nothing wrong with your Ellie!!! (who is such a doll!)