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The Right Words - The Language of Safety in action

  • Sally Ann
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14 Jan 2013 14:33 - 14 Jan 2013 17:05 #1 by Sally Ann
I was looking through an 'old file' recently and stumbled over some wonderful resources (in my opinion) that I had completely forgotten about. The poem below was written by Adele Rees in 2006 and is about her son Freddie who has a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. When I rediscoverd this poem I was in the middle of responding to a new PB Person and we were discussing how some people appear to want to squeeze 'unique young children' into little boxes by describing them for example as the 'EAL girl' rather than the girl for whom English is an addtional language.
The poem, I believe, captures exactly what the Language of Safety is about in that it asks for respectful communication that is empowering and enhances relationships.

The Right Words

I’d like you to choose carefully, the words you might say
When you see my baby in the general day-to-day.

He is a darling baby boy who happens to have Down’s syndrome
The result of a small chemical accident and an extra chromosome.

But don’t call him ‘Downs Baby’, ‘A Downs’ or ‘Downs Boy’,
It makes him sound like a different breed, an animal or stuffed toy!

And please don’t make judgements like a book by its cover,
Like all other children, he’s very different from any other,
Don’t offer some generalised statement that’s outdated and might go…
‘He’ll be so loving and cuddly’.
How on earth do you know?!

It might not be easy to say words that don’t offend,
So just be honest and considerate so together we can mend
Society’s choice of words – because we need to emphasise that
Your words do make a difference to the way we feel inside.

So let’s get it right.
He is a baby WITH Downs.
Not a ‘Downs baby’.
Remember, other way round!!

He’s a human, like you, with just a little bit more
And if we were all the same, wouldn’t life be a bore?

Do please share this poem with others that you know
So down the road to ‘thoughtful language’, we all can humbly go.

And if you‘re a professional or involved in any way,
You’re the forefront of our campaign.
Get it right.

WATCH WHAT YOU SAY!


Adele Rees 2006

Thank you Adele for letting me include it in this post. If readers would like to find out more about the work of Northamptonshire's Ups'n'Downs group please visit www.upsndowns.co.uk
Last edit: 14 Jan 2013 17:05 by Steve H.

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15 Jan 2013 15:09 #2 by Maureen M
Thanks for sharing this - it made me think about "seeing the behaviour" as in the FTB diagram.

Maureen

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15 Jan 2013 16:10 #3 by Simon
Sally Ann - I agree with you about the Language of Safety and respectful communication. For me this is also about the Unwritten Rules for people with disabilities and how someone might feel if they, or their child was referred to as a 'Down's Baby' or 'Down's Boy' or 'EAL girl' etc. In this way I think the poem is a powerful illustration of the possible effects of labelling and it also includes opportunities for change to help address the situation. And ... provides a wonderful example of how command language sometimes fulfils a clear purpose within the Language of Safety.

Simon

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15 Jan 2013 23:07 - 15 Jan 2013 23:08 #4 by Ann
Couldn't have put it better myself. Love the poem and would like to use it on training if that is ok with the author. It makes good points clear to understand.
Last edit: 15 Jan 2013 23:08 by Ann.

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15 Jan 2013 23:16 #5 by Sally Ann
Adele has said it's fine with her as long as the writer and date are acknowledged. It might also be helpful in my opinion to highlight the Ups'n'Downs website.

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16 Jan 2013 06:46 #6 by Ann
That's excellent. Please pass on my thanks if you get the opportunity.

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