The audiologist whom I wrote to about the use of the term "Down's Syndrome boy" emailed me last week. It was an email thanking me for my letter and interesting and informative language guide, which was also shared with the audiologist's colleagues. The audiologist said, "I apologize for my word choices as they were not meant to offend you, your husband or Matthew." I replied, thanking her for her email and shared with her how we had to learn about using preferred language ourselves.
If we hadn't been close to someone who has Down syndrome, this would not be on our radar. We might have been using some no-no terminologies or common misstatements and unknowingly being offensive. We try to keep this in mind when offering this information to others. We would've probably been on the receiving end at some point in our lives if we didn't have Matthew.
We've only become accutely aware about specific terminologies when referring to individuals with a diagnosis of Down syndrome after Matthew was born. Because of Matthew, we are learning to be more sensitive about our choice of words in consideration for other people's feelings. We are discovering our own tolerance levels for what we find offensive in relation to Down syndrome.
The gift of awareness - one of the many gifts Matthew has given to us.
"A Down's Syndrome Boy"