Part 1 of 2
These are important days. People are people and they are trying to be identified as such. In my business whole diagnostic categories have changed to try to use language that helps empower rather than demean. For instance, we use a diagnostic manual. Up until the last change a person with an IQ below 70 was diagnosed with Mental Retardation. Now the diagnostic has changed to
Intellectual Impairment. Language can change how we think about things.
Right now, the Paralympic Games are being held.
The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, are held almost immediately following the respective Olympic Games.
Language changes by group and by person at times. Language such as “differently abled” or “special,” for instance, may seem on the surface to convey that someone with a disability has positive qualities about them. However, terms like these tend to be euphemistic, and are not frequently used by the people to whom they refer.
This is a time when people are keenly paying attention to language. I make mistakes all the time. I am not holding myself out as an authority or excusing myself. I am writing because I want to help myself think about things in the way that is the most fair, the most empowering. It takes time and I find that language has shaped my thinking over time. It does. It is powerful that way.
Want motivation? Let’s draw in what is happening a half a world away.
The 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are underway, and the United States on the first day of competition already won more gold medals than it secured at the entire 2014 Games in Sochi.
Tune in. Get motivated. No excuses. Let’s Go!