by SOPHIE GORECKI - November 11, 2020 - October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, so here are five simple things you can do to be more inclusive in your everyday life.
1. Be informed
The first step to understanding how to be more inclusive to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is to be informed and do your research. Reading this article is a great first step. There are countless myths about those with disabilities that are outdated. For example, It is a common misconception that people with Down Syndrome can’t be employed. According to a survey done by the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 57% of adults with Down Syndrome surveyed had a paid job (Kumin and Schoenbrodt). Misinformation and myths like this can be easily debunked by being informed and educated.
2. Use person first language.
Person first language is a way to acknowledge that a person is not defined by their disability and that they are indeed a person too. For example, instead of saying “Down Syndrome child,” choose to say the more respectful option: “child with Down Syndrome.” Person first language is important in eliminating offensive and harmful terms from our vocabulary and has even been adopted by the government when writing laws through the People First Respectful Modernization Act of 2006 (“People First Language”).
3. Don’t use the r-word
One of the most important things you can do to be an ally to those with disabilities is to not use the r-word. Along with person first language, taking the r-word out of your vocabulary is a way to show respect and dignity when speaking about people with disabilities. Although many say that it used to be a medical term, the use of the r-word is outdated and offensive to many with disabilities. Share with people around you to also avoid the r-word, and explain how it is hurtful and damaging to those with disabilities, even if said in a private conversation.
4. Make an effort to include those with disabilities
As an ally, one of the most important things you can do for people with disabilities is to include them and love them. It can be challenging for individuals with disabilities to find friends, but it is extremely important for them to find social fulfillment. A great way to get involved at WHS is to join Best Buddies, which helps students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities make a community of friends that is a safe, inclusive environment for all.
5. Educate others
Once you have informed yourself, an important thing to do is spread your knowledge and inform others as well. To form a more inclusive community, it is important to ensure that your friends and family are allies to those with disabilities.