Person First Language


Words can create barriers and reinforce stereotypes. Therefore, the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization strongly believes in the importance of ensuring that correct language is used when talking or writing about individuals with Down syndrome.1545745_961934447171227_8046498553945659530_n

A baby born with Down syndrome is not a “Down’s child” or a “baby with Downs.” When describing an individual with Down syndrome, it is preferred that you say, he/she is a baby with Down syndrome. A person with Down syndrome is not a “Downs”. A parent doesn’t have a Down syndrome child. They have a child who has Down syndrome. Placing the person before the disability emphasizes the person first and the disability second.

When referring to peers, the correct term is “typical” peers as opposed to “normal.” It is also important to use correct terminology. A person does not “suffer” from Down syndrome, nor are they “afflicted”. It is not a disease.

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition which results in an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. It was discovered by Dr. John Langdon Down, however, since Dr. Down did not have this syndrome himself, the possessive form is not used. In addition, the ‘s’ in syndrome is not capitalized. Person First language emphasizes respect for the individual. A child is much more than a label. Help to educate family, friends and physicians about the preferred way to refer to your baby.

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