People First Language


People First Language (PFL) was developed to respectfully speak about people with disabilities. The number one focus of PFL is putting the person before his/her disability because the disability is only a small part of the whole person. PFL highlights a person's strengths, abilities and potential to succeed instead of labeling the individual or confining the person to an established stereotype.

Remember: concentrate on the person, not the disability!

Contact Panhandle Down Syndrome Guild to learn more.


Children (or people) with disabilities
He has a disability
She has a cognitive disability
People with cognitive disabilities
She has Down syndrome
My son has autism
He has a learning disability
She has a physical disability
My son has a physical disability
She is of short stature
She has an emotional disability
He uses a wheelchair (or mobility chair)
Typical children; kids without disabilities
He receives special ed services
He needs behavior supports
He has a brain injury
Accessible parking/bathroom
She needs... She uses...

Instead of:

the disabled, the handicapped
he's disabled; he's handicapped
my daughter is retarded
the (mentally) retarded
she's Down's; she's mongoloid
my son is autistic
he's learning disabled; he's LD
she's a quadriplegic or a cripple
my son is disabled
she's a dwarf
she's emotionally disturbed
he's confined to a wheelchair he's wheelchair bound
normal kids or healthy kids
he's in special ed
he has behavior problems
He's brain damaged
handicapped parking/bathroom
she has a problem with... she can't