Labels and Diagnoses – Do they help us make sense of people with disabilities?
Or do they just reinforce our misconceptions and preconceived notions about people with disabilities?
Choose 3 categories based on your group and their experience
- Down syndrome, Autism, Amputee
- Developmental delay, Autism, Learning disabilities
- Cerebral palsy, ADD, Bi-polar/mental illness
- Create your own!
Ask the group to react with words
- Ask the group to give characteristics/words – up to 5 – that they associate with each disability/difference.
- Good/bad/awkward/unfriendly/judgemental. There are no right or wrong answers. Push people towards their honest first reaction even if they’re already becoming aware of nuance on the issues.
- Jot the words down under their category header on a whiteboard if you have access, or write them down as you hear them for repeating later.
Review and respond to the the suggested words for each category area.
Ask the Group: Why do we create diagnoses in the first place?
- Creating diagnoses – what does it do for the person with the special need?
- Do we need theses ‘disability boxes’ and diagnoses?
- Does it make sense of the world of difference? Does that help when diagnosing and responding to different needs?
- Who are we anyway? We know that not every person with Down is loveable, just like not every person on the spectrum is Albert Einstein, i.e, and not every amputee is a marathon runner or skier trying to prove a point (Maybe they just like to ski).
- Acknowledge our category making and resolve to move past it as part of creating a more inclusive community.
- In order to create a truly inclusive community, we need break out beyond the labels and get to know the person.