Let Language Empower

When describing people or behaviors, it is constructive to use specific language in a sensitive manner. Avoiding generic or punitive impersonal terms that imply judgment and blame. Download PDF of Worksheet here.

Language That Carries the Burden of Stigma

Language that Promotes Acceptance and Respect

 Comments

Jon is mentally ill.
Jon is bipolar.Jon is schizophrenic.
Jon has a mental illness.
Jon has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder/schizophrenia.
Put the person first.Avoid defining a person by their diagnosis.
Amanda is an addict. Amanda is addicted to alcohol.
Amanda is in recovery from drug addiction
Put the person first.
Avoid defining a person by their diagnosis.
Sarah is brain damaged. Sarah has a brain injury. Avoid defining a person by their diagnosis.
Jane is disabled. Jane is a person with a disability. Put the person first.
Avoid defining a person by their diagnosis.
Stan is manipulative. Stan works very hard to get his needs met. Remove blame from the statement.
Linda is normal.
Linda is healthy.
Linda is someone without a disability.
Linda is typical.
Referring to people without disabilities as normal or healthy suggests that people with disabilities are not normal and not healthy.
Chris is defiant.
Chris is non-compliant.
Chris chooses not to…
Chris would rather…
Unique descriptions of an individual are more useful than generalizations.
Tyler is mentally retarded. Tyler has cognitive disabilities.
Tyler is cognitively impaired.
Put the person first.
Use respectful language.
Mark is learning disabled. Mark has a learning disability.
Mark has been diagnosed with learning impairments.
Put the person first.
Use respectful language.
Allie suffers from autism.
Allie is autistic.
Allie has a diagnosis of autism.
Allie has autism.
Avoid defining the person by their diagnosis.
Bob is in special education.
Bob needs special education.
Bob receives supportive services.
Bob receives special education services.
Put the person first.
Avoid defining the person by their diagnosis.
Karen loses it.
Karen is dangerous.
Karen may talk or yell loudly to herself when she is upset.
Karen flails her arms violently around her when she hears voices.
Unique descriptions of an individual are more useful than generalizations.
Use respectful language.
Sandra is mentally ill and uses drugs. Sandra is a person with co-occurring mental health and substance use/abuse issues. Put the person first.
Avoid defining the person by their diagnoses.
Henry is downer.
Henry is lazy.Henry is always depressed.
Henry has experienced depression for many years.
Henry is challenged to get motivated.
Unique descriptions of an individual are more useful than generalizations.
Use respectful language.
Arthur is hyper.
Arthur is manic.
Arthur has a lot of energy right now.
Arthur hasn’t slept in 3 days.
Unique descriptions of an individual are more useful than generalizations.
Quinn is paranoid. Quinn is experiencing a lot of fear.
Quinn is worried that her neighbors want to hurt her.
Unique descriptions of an individual are more useful than generalizations.
Mara is a cutter. Mara expresses emotional pain through self-harm.
Mara hurts herself when she is upset.
Avoid defining the person by the behavior.
Recognize the reason behind the behavior.