Talking to Others
The role of paraprofessional requires good communication skills. The need to effectively communicate with students, teachers, families, and administrators will be a part of the job. In these communications it is important to use "People First Language." Paraprofessionals may also find the need to help parents become effective communicators about their children.
People First Language
The language and words we use to describe others has a profound impact on the images our words create. People first language recognizes that when talking about people with disabilities we need to put the person first and the disability second. Two resources to help you adopt People First Language:
- People First Language by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
- "To Ensure Inclusion, Freedom and Respect for People with Disabilities We Must Use People First Language" (**Adobe PDF) by Kathie Snow is an excellent article discussing the need for people first language.
- "Disability is Natural"
Strategies to Help Parents Communicate About Their Children
Most parents like to talk about their children. Parents enjoy discussing their child's latest achievement or funny antic. But when their child has a disability the discussions may seem, at times, somewhat awkward. While other parents are bragging about their child's first steps, a parent whose child has a disability may be wondering whether their child will ever walk. How do we help parents adjust to and talk about having a child with a disability? How do we assist parents to adequately and effectively communicate their child's strengths and challenges? How do we help them to envision and share the hopes and dreams they have for their child?
Following are some strategies you can share with parents as they talk about their child.
Helping Parents Communicate About Their Child
- Communicating Your Child's Strengths & Challenges discusses strategies on how parents can effectively communicate to professionals their child's strengths and challenges.
- Developing a Life Vision for Your Child provides a guiding framework for parents as they think about a life-vision.
- Observing Your Child provides tips to parents on how to observe their child in various settings and communicate those observations to the professionals working with their child.
- Take A Look At Me Portfolio – Early Childhood is a booklet offered by the PEAK Parent Center to assist families in describing their child to others.
- CORE: Guided Conversations with Parents on Raising Young Children with Disabilities (PDF) provides instructions to professionals on discussing the varied aspects of parenting kids with disabilities.
Helping Parents Deal with the Emotional Aspects of Learning their Child has a Disability
- Dealing with the Reactions of Others discusses how to respond to the questions and comments of others.
- "You Are Not Alone: For Parents When They Learn That Their Child Has a Disability" written by Patricia McGill Smith discusses the emotional aspects of a diagnosis.
- "The Unplanned Journey: When You Learn That Your Child Has a Disability" (PDF) by Carole Brown, et al.