Is This the Language You Use for Students with Special Needs?

Is This the Language You Use for Students with Special Needs?

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We’ve come a long way from the days of using language to describe people with special needs that would make all of us cringe.   Today if you or I would hear the following words, we would be appalled:




deaf and dumb,







hare lip







Although I have not heard people in recent years use these outdated and disrespectful terms when referencing a student, somehow the way language is used to describe people with special needs is too often not well thought out.   Hence today’s video.

Take a look.

I encourage you to share this with your staff, with friends, with general education staff etc. We all need reminders to use language that is the most respectful to our students.

I make “people first” language part of the training I do for instructional assistants and occasionally do gentle reminders to certified staff when warranted, just to make people aware. In my experience people want to do the right thing!!!

On a personal note: I am now an official tornado survivor!!! Jerry and I joined my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at the family cabin on Garden Lake just outside of Ely, MN for a week of fun and relaxation. Last Thursday at 3 am, a tornado came ripping through the Northland with winds from 70-90 miles an hour. We discovered the mayhem when we tried to travel the ¾ mile road through the property to the main road. We mistakenly thought the first trees across the road were our only barrier! The guys jumped out of the car, grabbed a chain saw and an ax and in true lumberjack style began to clear the road. Once we did a little reconnaissance a little further down the road, we realized that we were probably stranded for the long haul! Who cares about 4 campers in the woods when the town and surrounding areas were hit? We could see at least 5 more uprooted trees (dirt balls, roots and all) and there was much more road to go!!! In true form, after getting all of our food on ice, Jerry made his way through the debris to find a very colorful “neighbor”, Barry, who with his long grey ponytail and his frontloader/backhoe and chain saw, cleared our path of over a 20+ fallen trees to rescue us!!! Two people were killed in the boundary waters area and many properties destroyed or damaged. We were truly blessed to come out of this unharmed. Who knew that one day I would be thrilled that my husband was a former boy scout!!!

I hope you enjoyed today’s video. You take care and I’ll see you next time!



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