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How To Help Your Kids Understand What It Means To Have A Disability

1. Be Mindful Of Terminology
Even having worked on a special education team, I feel cautious with the words I use to describe disabilities. While I've found "special needs" and "disabilities" to be somewhat interchangeable, I know some people don't like the term "special needs," while still others are bothered by the term "disabled."

Accordingly, when you talk to your kids, be aware of the words you use. A friend who was also a special education teacher suggested always using "person first" language. In other words, saying things like "a child on the autism spectrum" instead of "an autistic child," or "a person with a disability" instead of "a disabled person."

The distinction may seem nuanced, but put yourself in the other parents' shoes. We don't want labels to define our kids. The more we can recognize the value of the person and not just categorize them according to their disability the better. It's easy to step on toes with this issue but humility and a little extra thought can go a long way.