We often assume we "know" all we need to know about a child or adult with a disability; but we really don't always know. So let's ask the person and not assume
Benevolent Services, Dangerous Messages
Yes, many services might seem helpful, but they can also send harmful, life-altering messages.
Best Hopes, Worst Fears
A helpful exercise that can clarify our thinking and generate great outcomes!
Beware the Retarding Environment
Too many children and adults with disabilities in environments that retard their development.
Our thinking—our focus—is often narrow. When we expand our thinking, we'll expand opportunities for people with disabilities.
Yes-No. That's one example of 2D-thinking; why not try "maybe" instead? There are many ways to widen our focus!
Let's share what people with disabilities CAN do, instead of what they cannot.
Case Against "Special Needs"
This tired descriptor leads to pity, low expectations, and segregation. People with disabilities deserve better.
Comparison: The Thief of Joy
No more comparing people with disabilities to others—let's focus on their accomplishments.
Three important questions can eliminate misunderstandings and disagreements and generate positive change.
It's a scary book that can have significantly negative consequences for people who are diagnosed using its criteria. And who benefits? Not those who are labeled!
It's only a medical diagnosis, and everyone has a medical diagnosis. And there's more...
Disability Awareness vs. Similarity Awareness
Let's focus more on similarities of people with and without disabilities instead of differences.
What happens when we compare diagnoses, that "this one" is "better" or "worse" than "that one"? It's not good!
Yes, people with disabilities have many entitlements, but do they generate the outcomes we want?
Eugenics in the 21st Century
"Cure and prevention," prenatal tests for Down syndrome, the "Combating Autism Act"—are we going backwards to the bad old days?
Fact or Opinion?
Most of what's said about people with disabilities is not the Truth with a capital T. Let's become more clear about whether we're sharing a fact or an opinion!
FIRE! And Lessons Learned (an analogy)
The ongoing threat of fire and then the fire itself helped us learn a new normal. We can do the same in the disability arena; great outcomes will be the result.
"Free the Giraffes" - A Thoughtful Analogy
Donna, a woman with autism, shares her thoughts about inclusion and more.
"Girls Don't Play Drums"
That's what the band teacher told me when I was a child; are we saying similar things to people with disabilities today?
It's time for an attitude-adjustment; time to expect great things for people with disabilities!
Why are so many insults derived from disability labels? And what can we do about this?
Humor to the Rescue: What Do You Say When...
Nosy questions and uncomfortable situations can be handled better when we use humor.
If we say these words more often, we'll create more possibilities for people with disabilities.
Do you define yourself or let others define you? What about people with disabilities and their identities?
Can we see them? The many abilities of people with disabilities—the compensatory skills they acquire—and can we recognize their value?
Words matter; they reflect our values and direct our actions. And they can have a profound impact on people with disabilities.
Our actions—what we do day in and day out—create our legacies. What will be yours?
Death by 1,000 cuts. It's what many parents and people with disabilities feel they experience every day. How can this be changed?
We try to have good manners, don't we? But it seems we may forget them when it comes to people with disabilities. Let's do better!
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense
Negative Prognoses & the Disability Double Standard
Professionals need to be more careful about their negative prognoses, and parents and people with disabilities need to stop listening to them!
New Ways of Thinking
Ever wonder how we got to where we are today? Time-travel through a brief history and learn why new attitudes are critically important.
Path to Wisdom
Four simple sentences lead to a path to wisdom.
People as Precious Commodities
Making people with disabilities needy is "good business" for those in the business. Not so good for people with disabilities.
Philosophy for Change
Should we be suspicious of the status quo? Is it rational? Can new ideas generate different outcomes for people with disabilities?
Power of Hope
Parents and people with disabilities need to hold on to hope; professionals need to hold their tongues and not steal hope.
Power of the Personal Story
Let's create positive, personal stories about the people with disabilities in our lives and open some doors to success!
Problem with "Problem"
It's a word loaded with harm and it's used too often about children and adults with disabilities.
Public Images vs. Personal Self-Esteem
What happens when groups promote themselves at the expense of the people they say they represent?
Quality of Life
Is a person's quality of life dependent on the acquisition of functional skills or is it based on something much deeper and much more important?
What if we stopped believing everything we think? What if we corrected our errors in thinking? It might just change people's lives!
Remember the Ham!
We do "what's always been done." But maybe we can change our ways when we "remember the ham."
Revolutionary Common Sense & New Ways of Thinking
Two-page handout with graphics and snippets that can stimulate conversation around the water cooler or the kitchen table.
Same & Different: Respect for All (for children)
We can help young children in our homes and schools learn about children and adults with disabilities in this helpful article.
Shhhh! Someone's Listening, Watch Your Language!
Have we thought about what we say and what people with disabilities hear? Shhhh......
TMI and Organ Recitals
We provide too much information (TMI) and share private info—let's think about what we're doing!
There are many "treatments" given to children with disabilities, but what about how we actually treat them, day in and day out?
Value of Being a Skeptic
What can happen when we wonder and question? We might see things differently and make different choices.
Voice of Authority (and Knee-Jerk Reactions)
You'll be able to relate to this in your own life; then apply the lesson to your experiences in the disability arena.
What Will It Take?
Using this technique (in our minds and our words) can result in very good outcomes!
What's in a Name?
What if a person with a disability was known by a positive characteristic? What a difference!
Who is a "Caregiver"?
Do we need to assign a label to parents and others who care for a beloved family member?
Who is a "Consumer"?
Is this what people with disabilities want to be called? Did they choose this descriptor?
Why Do We Apologize?
Do we apologize because we feel we're a burden? Do we need to change our thinking about this?
"Wrong" is Just Not Right
How do you make yourself "right," if your parents talk about what's "wrong" with you?
You'll also find helpful information on these pages:
People's real-life experiences can provide valuable of lessons.
Regular Lives for Families with Children with Disabilities features yours truly, Kathie Snow, speaking about a variety of topics in 22 video clips, provided by the MN Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (with my thanks and gratitude).
How we think and the words we use can change lives (for better or worse). Attitude is everything! Our words and our attitudes are our choice—in turn, they drive our actions. Let's use our power to create positive change!
To see all of our articles, please visit the Library page. As necessary, use the "find" function on your computer to search for a particular article (control and f on a PC; command and f on a Mac).
Attitudes and Language