FAW: Talking about Children & Youth with Special Needs


Person-First Language: Talking about Children and Youth with Special Needs

Imagine walking into a room full of people you don’t know. In a situation like this, you want to put your best foot forward, to make a good first impression. But, then imagine that everything about you that may be unflattering or negative were visible to the others in the room. Sure, you could speak to the people and tell them all about your successes and achievements, your interests and passions, but all of that is secondary to what those people first saw. In many cases, this is what happens for people with disabilities or special needs.

We often hear children and youth in the foster care system described by their needs, by what may be “wrong” with them. Even saying “foster child” or “adopted child” can easily be reframed into something that is more positive and that puts the person first: a child in foster care or a child who was adopted.

Person-first language places a person before their disability or description.

Articles include:

  • Person-First Language: Talking about Children & Youth with Special Needs
  • What “Special Needs” Should I be Prepared for as a Foster Parent?

Download: FAW Winter 2018

Author: Coalition for Children, Youth & Families
Additional Author: Foster Care & Adoption Resource Center
Other Resources