Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's all in the Wording...

For me, wording is everything.  I have a background in anthropology, and truly believe that the words we choose cannot be seperated from our viewpoints, understandings, and perspectives.  It's kind of like how the Inuit have like a gazillion words for snow, because snow plays such a large role in their lives.  Their language reflects that.

It's why I so hate the word "autistic".  I don't just use person first terminology because it is politically correct, I use it so that my language reflects my thoughts, that a person comes before their label. 

The latest word that is beginning to fall harshly on my ears is one that you might not expect.  It's one I didn't always mind, but really irks me now.  Inclusion.  It's not the practise that bothers me, but the word itself.  (although I do have my own view points of full inclusion, which is a different issue altogether.)

What does it mean to be included?  In my mind it would involve accomodations being made so that all people could be participants.  By its very nature, we have to assume that the enviornment or activity is, under normal circumstances in some way non-accessible to those being included. 

When I was a little girl, my older sisters were often reminded to 'include' me in their games. 

Call me a word snob if you like, but I don't want my boy to be just included.  I want him to belong.  It feels like if you have to be included, it sends the message that you are being pulled in from outside the group.  Outsiders being allowed in.  I don't like that word.  I don't know a better one yet, I'm still thinking about it....  I do not see people with exceptionalities as being outsiders, I see them as full bodied, equally important human beings.  Like my favourite line from the HBO Temple Grandin movie..."Different, not less."

Again, it's not that I am in disagreement with the practise of inclusion itself, I see the world as being for all, and the more we can make all places for all, the better.  It's just the word. 

And the wording is everything.


  1. Well said. You've put into words that tiny frustration that I can't quite put my finger on. My son is different, just like all kids are, just different in a few atypical ways. Accept him at that and more - embrace and appreciate the differences. I would change nothing about his perspective on the world. Thanks for the great post.

  2. I think the issue I have is that people use the word inclusion to mean things that it is not. Many times they are merely "dumping" kids of variety abilities and needs in a room and proclaiming "we do inclusion". That is NOT what inclusion is. You are right, society should be able to just include anyone in anything at any time and embrace who we all are - we all have strengths and weaknesses, we all bring gifts to the table. It is unfortunate that "inclusion" is being misrepresented and misused.
    Have you read anything by Judith Snow or checked out
    I agree with person first language and the concerns you are identifying - just like my good friend Pam commented earlier. I'm thinking we just need to reclaim the word inclusion and call people on it when they claim (falsely) to be doing it.
    Thanks for making me think today!