Labels are everywhere. Let’s face it. We use them everyday. We call someone “stupid” without evening thinking, we are “dumb” when we forget something. Some labels are nicer than others. If you go around calling everyone “sluts” and “bitches” I am sure that you will not have as many friends as the next person. We have to pay attention to labels, I’m not saying that you have to be politically correct, but you have to respect the rights that every person ought to have. This is where person-centered language comes into play.
Today I started the first module of my SPLED (Special Ed) class. It was a lecture on mild disabilities and in the presentation they talked about people with mild MR, which is now called a developmental disability. Think of the labels that people with disabilities get. Think about the labels that psych patients receive. We say it everyday. I’m going “crazy.” That person is “crazy.” We don’t think about the stigma that is attached to that label when someone is suffering from a mental disorder. I have a soft spot for people that suffer from mental disorders not only because I’m into psychology and counseling, but also because I know what it’s like to have a label.
Back to SPLED…there was a YouTube video that accompanied the section on Developmental Disabilities about people with down’s syndrome that have dreams. I almost cried, and if I were a person that cried easily, it would have definitely happened. It was so sweet. It was an almost 4 minute video that talked about ways in which people with down syndrome have dreams. Some had the same exact dreams as me. They wanted to go to college, they wanted to have their own exercise video (lol). Some were proud of the accomplishments that they had achieved such as being able to interpret for deaf people. I can’t do that, so I think that is awesome!
As humans, we all dream big or at least we should. Dreams aren’t limited to anyone, and they shouldn’t be. Everyone should have something they are striving for which keeps our heart beating and makes our life worth living. We are all special, and we dream big in anyway we know how.
Notice that in this post I have talked completely in person centered language. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, it means that you refer to the person first and then refer to the disability or disorder that they may have. We no longer say an autistic person, a schizophrenic. These labels are dead, and they are dead for a reason. A disability cannot define who a person really is inside. These labels cannot be used against or for a person. They must be used with caution, and we must remember that underneath all of the labels is a person just like you and I.
Let us not forget that we should all dream big. We need to strive for the highest and create our destiny (and not forget what made us happy in the first place!) Don’t forget the little people, don’t forget your family and friends. Forget the labels that may try to keep you grounded.
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”