Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - October 21, 2007

Teachers helping collect recyclables

I want to thank all the teachers in York county for the extra effort they are making in getting the recycled materials collected by students to the convenience centers on their own time.

Yes, the schools have private trash pickup. This service picks up only two roll carts of recyclables every other week per school, and this is inadequate to take care of the amount of recyclables collected. Thanks again to teachers for keeping those materials out of the landfill.

Marilyn Hakim

Rock Hill

We all should use 'people first' language

I enjoyed reading the recent article, "The autism puzzle." I work for a school district in South Carolina and serve as its autism specialist. In the educational world, there are many disagreements on the who's, why's and how's of autism, but most of us can agree to one thing: Early diagnosis and early intervention are key. However, I'm not here to talk about autism, treatments, or diagnoses. I am writing this for a larger purpose -- acceptance.

It baffles me that in 2007 people still are not using "people-first" language. What is people-first language? It is putting the person before the disability. For example, in the "The autism puzzle," the author used the statement "the autistic child" numerous times. "The autistic child" is not people-first language. The author could have used the statement, "the child with autism." We simply put the child before the disability.

Please understand that I am not saying the author did this intentionally; she simply did not know better. This is not the first time that this has happened in The Herald or other newspapers or newscasts. I am not saying that The Herald or anyone else is malicious in their actions. It is simply a lack of understanding.

I know some are thinking this is just another one of those "special education fads." Thank goodness it's not. People-first language is here to stay. It is the right thing to do. We would not say "the wheelchair kid," now would we?

Here is what people-first language means to a child with a disability (notice I did not say "the disabled child.")

From the book, "Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew," by Ellen Notbolm:

"I am, first and foremost, a child. I have autism. I am not primarily 'autistic.' Autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you fat, myopic, klutzy or not good at sports? These might be things I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about."

Here are a few more examples of people first language that we can begin living by:

• It's not the special-needs students, it's the students with special needs.

• It's not the exceptional-needs kids; it's the students with exceptional needs.

• It's not the learning disabled child; it's the child with a learning disability

• It's not the Down Syndrome child; it's the child with Down Syndrome

Robert Compton

Rock Hill

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