Misc.: Diseases and disorders

March 4, 2010: Issue 330

Dont let diseases or disorders define people. They are something a person has, not something a person is. Mention a disease or disorder only when its relevant to a story, and dont use it as a label.

incorrect: John, a diabetic
incorrect: an autistic child

correct: John, who has diabetes
correct: a child with autism

Avoid loaded verb phrases such as struggles with, is a victim of, or suffers from. In these cases, your best bet is plain old has.

Use similar care in writing about people who have mobility issues. Dont say, for instance, that someone is confined to a wheelchair, which is literally untrue. Instead, say the person uses a wheelchair.

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