Down syndrome

Learning to Unsay the R-Word

Amy Silverman on Changing the Way a Culture Speaks

Photo depicting a blank chalkboard with an eraser and piece of chalk on its ledge.

By Literary Hub

As we drove to her high school one morning not long ago, I asked my daughter Sophie what words she’d use to describe herself.

“Cute, funny, smart, hard working,” she says.

“Anything else?”

“Lovable.” Literary Hub

Sophie did not use the word retarded, though some people might. I’ve never heard her say it. She’s never heard me say it, either. I don’t use it. Anymore.

To be totally honest, I miss the word.

I imagine it’s a little like how a smoker feels once she’s quit. Relieved to be rid of cigarettes, disgusted that she ever used them. Healthy, now. A better person for it. But sometimes, there’s that sense that nothing else will ever deliver quite the same satisfaction. Years later, I still find myself craving the r-word.

I went cold turkey in 2003, the year Sophie, my second daughter, was born. In the recovery room post C-section, I forced my drugged eyes open long enough to ask my husband Ray, “What are you doing?” and closed them again when he told me he was measuring the placement of Sophie’s ears, a marker of Down syndrome.

Read Amy Silverman’s full essay here:https://lithub.com/learning-to-unsay-the-r-word/

Apple’s new emoji include disability-related symbols. I’m not thrilled.

Apple emojis
(Stock)

On Monday, as part of its IOS 13.2 release, Apple released 398 new emoji, including a sloth, a flamingo, buttered waffles — and several disability-related symbols, including images of people with different skin tones in wheelchairs, a prosthetic leg, a blind person with a probing cane, a service dog and a hearing aid.

Disability advocates are cheering. I’m not thrilled.

As both the mother of a child with a disability and a journalist who covers disability-related issues, I have trained myself to look past labels to consider individuals. Just as the blue-and-white international “handicapped” symbol falls far short of including all people with disabilities, so does this handful of emoji.

Read Amy Silverman’s full piece for The Washington Post, Apple’s new emoji include disability-related symbols. I’m not thrilled.

Amy Silverman on the Challenges of Updating Our Disability Language Style Guide

Journalist and NCDJ board member Amy Silverman discusses the complexities of disability terminology and opens up about her experience updating our Disability Language Style Guide, a task she calls “one of the toughest assignments of my career.”

Read Amy Silverman’s blog post “Beyond the R-Word.”

Click here to download the 2018 NCDJ Disability Language Style Guide as a PDF.

disability language

Baby with Down syndrome wins Gerber photo contest, making history

For the first time in its 91-year history the Gerber Baby Photo Contest chose a baby with Down syndrome. The winner is Lucas Warren of Dalton, GA and his prize includes a $50,000 paycheck and Gerber advertising contract. Click here to see more photos of adorable Lucas and watch an interview on The Today Show with him and his parents.

Check out the National Down Syndrome Society’s “Preferred Language Guide” for a quick and helpful tutorial on communicating about DS.

Photo of 1 year old Lucas Warren, the winner of Gerber's annual baby photo contest. Lucas has Down syndrome. Lucas wears a light green shirt, white pants, and a blue bowtie. He smiles cheerfully into the camera.
Lucas Warren, Gerber’s 2018 Spokesbaby and winner of their annual photo contest. Lucas is the first contest winner to have Down syndrome. Credit: Cortney Warren, Lucas’ mom

Mom of daughter with Down Syndrome and heart defect fights transplant discrimination

Jackie Ward is the mother of a three-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome and a heart defect. She recently became an advocate for disability rights after experiencing discrimination from doctors while applying for a heart transplant for her daughter. Ward is now teaming up with Ohio state legislators to pass laws that will give applicants with disabilities more leverage. Check out this article and video interview with Jackie Ward from the Columbus Dispatch.

“A 2008 survey by researchers at Stanford University found that 85 percent of pediatric transplant centers consider neuro-developmental status in the eligibility process at least some of the time, Hansen said. And in the same study, 62 percent of the centers said eligibility decisions based on disability tended to be made informally, making discrimination difficult to show.”

 

Recently Published Non-Fiction On Disability

 My Heart Can’t Even Believe It,  by Amy Silverman 

Amy Silverman’s story of “science, love, and Down Syndrome” is out on Amazon. Silverman, an award-winning journalist, shares her evolution from someone who once used words like “retard” and switched lines at the Safeway to avoid a bagger with special needs to raising a child with Down syndrome. The book is both deeply personal and well researched, with information and insights about how people with Down syndrome are treated in medicine, science and culture. Her book is available on Amazon. 

Wisdom From a Chair: Thirty Years of Quadriplegia, by Andrew I. Batavia and Mitchell Batavia

Twelve years after his death, the family of Andrew Batavia discovered his unfinished memoir and completed the work. Batavia shares the wisdom he acquired while living with a high-level spinal cord injury and fighting for the civil rights of people with disabilities. Read more about the book here.