Beware of the Language Minefield

Beware of the Language Minefield

 Language is powerful. It can be used to inspire and empower, but also to dehumanize and ostracize. In the special needs community, we face a language minefield that creates challenges for even our best-spoken advocates. We hope that this article generates discussions, reflections, and actions that contribute to an improved use of language in the special needs community. The children’s rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” first appeared in 1862. While the motivation for the rhyme is to encourage children not to retaliate with physical actions when they are taunted or called names, the reality is that words and phrases can do damage and their ef ...