- He's ADHD.
- He's a Down's kid.
- She's LD.
- A disabled program is in that building.
- John has ADHD.
- David has Down's Syndrome.
- Susan is a child with a learning disability.
- That building houses a program for people who have disabilities.
Many disability advocates believe that using person first language helps teachers, therapists, parents, and service providers remember they are working with a person who has dignity, feelings, and rights. They are not a disability or a disease. They are people with a disability or disease. This subtle but powerful language shift helps us view people with disabilities as capable and deserving of respect.
It is important to note, however, that some people with disabilities have their own preferences about how we discuss their disability. For example, in some deaf communities, it is preferred to say "He's deaf," rather than "He has deafness." In some communities of the blind, it is preferred that we say "He's blind," rather than he has "blindness." Further, some communities of the blind prefer to say "person without sight."
When in doubt, you can observe and listen to the language used by a person with disabilities, and take your cues from what is said. You may also ask if teachers or persons with disabilities in your area are willing to share their preferences with you. If all else fails, and you accidentally offend someone, a sincere apology can help.