Wednesday, June 09, 2010

PC . . .

Today I was talking to someone and I used the phrase, "my special needs child". They corrected me saying, "he is NOT his diagnosis, you should say 'my child who has special needs'". I know this. I have even done a training on using Person First Language. But to me I really couldn't care less.

Take me for instance. I am OCD. Everything I do revolves around the fact that my brain is wired different than others without OCD. I don't get bent out of shape about the phrasing.

I am well aware that my child is more than a sum of all his parts. In this particular instance I was talking to someone who had really no concept of my child's abilities. I was attempting to make them aware that this was not a neuro-typical child. Dustin IS my special needs child. Dustin IS my FAS child. It controls who he is and what he does. It makes him who he is. In our case, it is all encompassing and pervasive.

Does this language offend you? What is your take on it?


GB's Mom said...

Doesn't offend me at all. It is truth. I think people that have that kind of time to worry about it either have their priorities wrong, don't live with our kids, or need to take up a hobby.

Miz Kizzle said...

I hate PC. Loathe it. It's like something from Orwell's "1984." It doesn't improve the world at all; it only creates awkward jargon and a bullying, superior attitude like the one demonstrated by that rude woman who corrected you.
People should be free to express themselves as they see fit, as long as no one is being denigrated. You love your son and you're a good mother. You should be able to refer to him any way that you like.
My pet peeve is "disabled." The PC police tell us that's wrong and we should say "differently abled," as in "Jim couldn't jump over the high hurdles because he was differently abled" or "Sally can't drive a car because she is differently abled."
Give me a break. If only Jonathan Swift were still alive he'd have a field day.

Kari said...

I do prefer to say "my child with FASD" but not because it is PC. I do it because it helps me remember that FASD is the %&*#$@ beast of a disability he / she has, but it is not who he / she is.

I need to separate in my brain the child from the behaviors and referring to FASD as something they have rather than something they are helps me do that.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Mmmm, as long as no one is using the R word offensively I don't care.

Really rude of her to say that to you imo.

marythemom said...

I've always been PC. My parents always encouraged us to accept everyone (just like Barney!).

When I was getting my masters in social work I did find the PC wording got ridiculous. I actually wrote a paper over a school year and I had to change the terms at least three times (mentally ill, people with mental illness, people with mental health issues...) and I think it was ridiculous and awkward by the end.

My kids have so many labels (adopted, kids of trauma, RAD, bipolar, emotionally disturbed, abused, Native American, teenagers...). I don't think these labels define them, but sometimes they help people understand them and why they act the way they do (as much as anyone can understand).

I think it's how you say and mean the word. At my house we don't allow the word "stupid," my kids talk about getting rid of the "R word" (retarded), anyone who says "Indian" will ALWAYS be corrected to call them Native Americans. It took us years to get my Grandmother to stop using the words "colored people" and "negros," she didn't understand why they were offensive. They were the polite terms in her day. She didn't mean anything negative by it and wasn't racist, although I'm sure she had lots of negatives stereotypes in her head.

It seems like the only way we can put an identifying label on someone is if we make it too awkward to use in everyday conversations, "this person who is descended from people who were considered to be members of the family organization aka tribe currently designated as the Miami Tribe of Indiana and additionally due to appearing to meet some and/or all of certain criteria (according to qualified personnel based on extensive research and observations over a "significant" period of time) has a working diagnosis at this time of an Axis II diagnosis known as bipolar disorder and possibly an additional label of reactive attachment disorder on Axis III, both as quantitatively defined in the DSM-IVR, who sometimes has problems with focusing (see appendix) and what might be behavior concerns that of course are due to no fault of his own, but could potentially be related to the negative impact of certain aspects of his childhood, but this is labeled "unable to determine" as said childhood was not documented by a valid double blind qualified researcher in a controlled environment...

Anyway, I try, but there are times I deliberately do not use PC terms.

Mary in TX

Reighnie said...

It doesn't bother me but I think it's because I understand what you mean when you say that. It's sort of like those words encompass everything (behaviors, etc..) because it is why Dustin does what he does. It doesn't mean you are saying it's who he is necessarily.

I don't really use the kids disorders to define them but I do say it's the RAD or PTSD. I got tired of all the extra words just to get to the same point. I don't think people realize how many times we've had to explain these things over and over again.

No matter how it's said, it is what it is when it comes to disorders. We've lived with it (whatever that may be) and after so long it seems like a form of shorthand to me. Ya know?

I personally think it's the other person's ignorance that boxes in certain meanings to certain words. For example, when Palin got all worked up over the use of the word retard. She's the one who gave her son that label by bringing him up. No one had said that about her son. To me that word means someone who is dumb or stupid, not handicapped. I understand it's probably generational, but words are only worth the weight we put behind them. Why perpetuate it by giving it value.

Attila The Mom said...

Some people are offended, some aren't. I truly believe it's up to the person who has a disability to decide how they want to be defined...not their parents, not society.

I don't think it's "PC" to use People-First language. I think it shows consideration until you are sure how the person you are addressing/talking about feels about it.

My son has become a great advocate for himself. When people refer to him as autistic he gently corrects them with "excuse me, but autism is something I have, not something I am."

Others feel that autism is something that defines them, and I don't have any problems with that. I would rather err on the side of courtesy than on the side of asshattery. But that's just me. LOL

JMO, of course

Sheri said...

Good points ladies!

Mary, btw, sp stinking weird you would use the Miami tribe of Indiana! I am a direct descendant of the Miami here in Allen County! Cool.

marythemom said...

Cool! My kids are members of the Miami Tribe of Indiana although I haven't gotten them officially enrolled since I haven't had time to get original birth certificates to send in (and sit down with someone about how to fill out the forms since it is through birth family that they qualify.

Mary in TX

Jules said...

I agree that it's your decision to choose the words to describe yourself and your son since you're obviously being respectful.

However, what disturbs me is that the right uses the term "PC" pejoratively for virtually any notion with any kind of ethical motivation (see one of the comments above: "orwellian", "PC police", etc). In so doing, they deride the ideology of a society that embraces a free and open exchange of ideas, and one in which ethical concerns (as well as pragmatic concerns) are relevant.

Underlying every complaint of "PC" is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society (WASPs) have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry.

In the debate over America's alleged climate of "political correctness", there's a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The former feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the latter simply are oppressed.

(sorry, that was way too long)