One Mistake Often Made in the Media

We are living in an amazing time in history. People are living longer and generally healthier than ever before. More opportunities are available for the average person. Of course there are still challenges that we face in today’s society but overall in the first world nations, in general we have it pretty good.

Now I’ve been noticing something that the media has been doing for some time now that is a mistake that needs to be corrected.

It’s actually one of my BIGGEST pet peeves.

I want to share this knowledge with you and make it known to others in the hopes that people are more aware of it and are more mindful.

You see this everywhere…newspaper articles, discussions with others, media outlets etc. It’s so commonplace that no one seems to take note of it. It’s almost as though it’s an acceptable thing. It’s referring to someone by their diagnosis. Now this might not seem like a big deal. There are so many other more pressing issues in the world, I get it. However this is a change that can make significant changes for others that can easily be changed without much thought once someone makes the effort.

I cannot tell you the number of articles that I have read that say:

“Autistic child finally speaks!”


“Down Syndrome adult gets job at local establishment.”

Now although I think it’s great that the media is acknowledging the achievements of people with disabilities, what drives me crazy and is incredibly wrong is the verbiage that they use…”autistic child”, “Down syndrome adult”. When did we think it was ok to refer to someone by those terms?

If you really think about it, we are only looking at one part in a large number of parts of one person. We are a sum of many many parts and to be referred to a diagnosis is such a small part.

That person is more than an autistic child. That person is more than a Down syndrome adult. Those people are…a sister, a brother, a friend, a Canadian, a nice person, a funny person etc…the characteristics are absolutely endless!!!! However the media just looks at that one person and refers to them by their diagnosis. They are much more than that and we need to treat them and refer to them much more than a diagnosis.

Why not say “A child with autism finally speaks!” Or “An adult with Down Syndrome gets a job at a local coffee shop.”

Yes it can be more of a mouthful but don’t people deserve to be recognized more for what they achieve and who they are than for their diagnosis?

Aren’t all people, regardless of a diagnosis, deserve to be treated and respected for more than a diagnosis?

As individuals, I strongly believe we need to make these changes and refer to people for more than their diagnosis.

I would love to see newspapers, books, media, discussions with others etc take an active and mindful approach to their work and refer to others for more than one part of that person….to refer to others for their achievements and for who they are. Perhaps we might see that a person with a disability has a lot to offer, not just a diagnosis. A person with a disability is the “sum of their parts” not just one part.

Please share this post so that we can start to make this change one person at a time.

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