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The Problem with "Problem"

“Well, yes, she has a lot of problems with reading, math, behavior, social skills, and a few other things, but there’s no reason she shouldn’t be included in a regular ed classroom.”

“Oh, I’d like my son to be in the community, but he has too many problems.”

“I wish we could use a regular babysitter, but we have to use the respite care services because of all my daughter’s problems.”

“Well, we’ve been trying to place this guy in a job in the community, but he’s got a lot of problems.”

“I tried to get my daughter in the Girl Scout troop, but they said they couldn’t handle all her problems.”


My unscientific study of language reveals that the #1 word used about people with disabilities is “problem.” And the problem with “problem” is that it’s also the #1 word that activates exclusion!​ Click here to continue.

Do you regularly tell friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, the most intimate and/or negative details of your life? Do you routinely detail what you need by describing your "problems?"  Most likely, the answer to both questions is "no." If we don’t do it to ourselves, we must not do it to people with disabilities!

Kathie Snow