A few weeks ago I was on the news to talk about my new kids’ book, Different Is Awesome!
I had a great time with the hosts and felt like it went really well. Later in the day they put the segment up online and the title of it gave me pause:
Here’s the thing: I don’t have a disability.
Now, if you know me at all, you know this isn’t something I get angry or belligerent about, but this time it did cause me to go, “What?” Mostly because I thought it could have been presented in a number of different, more positive ways. “Author Talks About New Kids Book” or “Author Discusses New Kids Book Encouraging Children To Embrace Differences” or “Man With One Hand Won’t Stop Making Animated Gestures To Emphasize Points”
Since I was a bit surprised by my reaction this time, I looked-up the word “disability” in the dictionary:
I love words and I respect the power they hold. I also know that this community and the greater community of people affected by physical and/or mental differences thinks a lot about how we are labeled. And that’s totally appropriate. The conversation is as important as ever and we should all be involved to some degree.
In fact, someone asked me how I prefer to be referred to the other day and after thinking for a beat, I told him I wasn’t sure.
It’s something I’m still wrestling with myself.
I know that disabled isn’t it, though. Or handicapped.
Differently-abled? Diff-abled? Adequately-abled? Mostly-able-bodied? Able-bodied-ish?
The fact is, I’d rather my difference be placed somewhere far down the list of words used to describe me.
I’d guess that the vast majority of you feel the same way.
What terminology do you prefer to use when describing your (or your child’s) difference?