PALS Cleveland

This is my friend Emma.

Emma loves to swim and is amazing at it.

She loves boys and hopes to one day get married.

She is a wonderful and considerate friend.

She is a very talented artist.

She also has Down Syndrome.

Sophie Rudloff

This is my friend Sa'vian.

Sa'vian loves to have his feet tickled.

He only likes the fried parts of chicken nuggets.

He is very naturally athletic and good at all sports.

He is kind and has a very contagious smile.

He also has Autism.

Sophie Rudloff

This is my friend Benny.

Benny has the best sense of humor.

He absolutely loves to sing and dance.

He radiates positive energy.

He always makes sure to greet someone with a smile.

He also has Spina Bifida.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of person-first language when it comes to discussing individuals with disabilities. It is pretty self-explanatory; they are people first. They are not their disability. They are artists, comedians, friends, performers, and athletes. They get heartbroken, excited, happy, enthusiastic and sad. Their disability is simply a part of them, but it does not define who they are as people.

If you were to go back and reread this article without the pictures, would you be able to tell my friends had disabilities before I mentioned it?

The answer is no.

Why? Because they are people first.