Watch Your Language

The language you use when talking about someone who has cerebral palsy or any disability for that matter is very important. You want to use positive language and avoid terms that tend to make having a disability into a negative. The following are some recommendations and guidelines on what to use and not use when referring to cerebral palsy and the disabled. These were developed by the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

  • Afflicted – this is a very negative term. A better word would be Affected or A person who has…
  • Cerebral palsied or cerebral paralyzed – besides the fact that it is almost impossible to pronounce, it makes the person you are talking about sound like an inanimate object. A better way of saying this is: person or people with cerebral palsy
  • Crippled- this paints a picture no one wants to look at. Just don’t use this term.
  • Disease- cerebral palsy is a Condition not a disease. Most people with cerebral palsy are as healthy as anyone else.
  • Drain and burden- these are big no no’s. The correct term—if you must, is: Added responsibility.
  • Poor- physical disabilities have nothing to do with economic status. Love and self esteem are priceless qualities. A persons character will determine the richness of his or her life.
  • Suffers from- if someone with a disability is independent and copes with life just as well as the able bodied people around them then how can they be suffering? This phrase simply dose not work.
  • Unfortunate- what is unfortunate is that we have even had to include this word in this list. Do not use this term to describe people with disabilities. Some people with disabilities feel that it is a gift and so in no way does unfortunate describe them.
  • Victim- a person with a disability was neither sabotaged nor were they necessarily involved in a plane, train, bus, or car accident. There is no way to rephrase this cliché.
  • Wheelchair-bound- this leaves the impression that the person is some how glued to the chair and can not get out. All people who use wheelchairs get out of them to go to bed. Many of them get out and walk for short distances. A better term here is: Person who uses a wheelchair.

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