Some Thoughts on Ableist Language

Some thoughts on language and ableism:

People are not *an* ‘ic.’ I’ve been called one of these. (I bristle at it.) At times, I’ve caught myself using a couple of these.

But no one is

an anorexic

a bulimic

an autistic

an arthritic

an asthmatic

a diabetic

an epileptic

a schizophrenic


It’s possible that someone might use this language as a self-descriptor, but it doesn’t mean everyone would want to be named/described in that way. It’s always good to use person-first language.

No need to say they/she/he is a/an __________(ic). For some, this is reductive and offensive.

Some may also reject the adjective version too. They/she/he is _________(ic). Though some embrace the adjective version as an identity. That’s important to lift up. Others do not, however, and prefer to talk about these as conditions that they have.

They/she/he has __________.

Also, spastic and manic are medical terms. When applied to people or things outside of that context, this is ableist language too. These are not personality traits or feelings of able-bodied people. (Saw this happen yesterday!) No one is ‘spastic’ or ‘manic’ about such-and-such.

There’s lots more to learn. But today, lifting these up.

Renee Roederer

[Important Edit: I made a big mistake in this piece which is itself ableist, particularly in the way I said, “It’s always good to use person-first language.” I have learned that people in the autistic community overwhelmingly prefer identity-first language to person-first language. My generalization erased communities and individuals that prefer to use identity-first language. More about that in a follow-up piece called, My Piece About Ableist Language Was Ableist.]

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