me first

I met Nicole through my job. (I don’t know if she read my blog or knew about it before now, but I bet she’ll be able to figure out who it is. If so, hi!)

She is the one who introduced me to the idea of People First Language. It’s an easy enough concept, though one that will require a pretty radical shift.

Instead of saying, for example, Adam is autistic, as if it is a trait like brown hair or blue eyes or freckles, you’d say Adam has autism. Adam, then, is not his diagnosis.

I would say the same thing applies to others with illnesses or limitations that may lead them to be considered “disabled,” even if they don’t consider themselves to be.

We may not be able to do certain things the way we used to, but we’re still people first. I know I don’t define myself as PSA. When I think of what makes me me, that’s not usually something that comes to mind, though even I’ll admit it has molded me into becoming the person I am today.


I am lucky and unlucky, in that most of the time PSA is invisible. I don’t use a wheelchair, I don’t have features that give anything away, I don’t require extra time to take a test. But, there are things I have to do differently than anyone else. And maybe that makes me sensitive to the idea of People First Language, to the idea of recognizing people for who they are, not what they have or what they can’t do.

But I think it’s a great idea, a wonderful cultural shift, and I’m glad I learned about it.

So: Thanks, Nicole.


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