I’m not sure what you’d call me or how I speak.
I’m autistic, but I can’t say I speak any other language.
I can only understand English, which is the first language I learned.
But that’s not how I’m going to get through this year, when I’m expected to get up in the morning and do the work that I do, because I can barely speak.
I’ve been told that I have a language disability by my employer.
I don’t understand what it is that makes them say that.
But it’s not just my language that is being labelled, it’s also the fact that my employers don’t see how they can work with me.
In many cases, the words used to describe me by my employers have the same meaning as when I was born.
“It’s a language we use all the time,” says the disabled mum who works for an IT firm.
“If you look at a baby’s face, you’ll see it has that expression.
I get called a child’s name, and I’ll get a lot of flak because it’s a very different word.
It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s a bit weird.
I like the sound of that’.”
So what exactly does this language have to do with language?
The dictionary of disabilities, released in 2010, defines language as “the act of using, communicating or communicating by speech, writing, or any other means to communicate something.”
It’s not exactly clear what that means.
It’s hard to say what words mean to someone who is deaf, or who doesn’t speak English.
Some dictionaries include a number of words that aren’t commonly used in English.
For example, if you’re talking to someone with a disability and say “we’ll talk about this later”, they might have a hard time understanding what you’re saying.
“You’re talking about someone with dyslexia, so what do you mean by ‘we’ll discuss this later’?” says Helen Brown, who is working with a disabled mum to help them to understand the word “we” in her child’s vocabulary.
But what is the exact meaning of these words?
And if you’ve been asked what the word for “we,” “the” or “them” means in this context, you’re likely to get a blank stare.
“What are we saying?
It’s all the same to me,” says one disabled mum, who asked to remain anonymous.
“It’s just a phrase.”
If you ask someone about their disability, you might be surprised to find out they don’t have any of the answers.
“The word for ‘you’ is used to refer to someone in a group,” says Lucy, a mother of two who is a carer for people with autism.
“They might say it as ‘you’re here’.
It’s very different to the word you would say in the real world.”
The phrase “I know you have a disability” has become so common that it is used in the workplace.
But as disability rights campaigner David Jones points out, language is not the only thing that’s being used to define disabled people.
“The fact that they are in a situation where they have to use words in a way that they don`t normally do, is often used to suggest that they can’t communicate in their normal way,” he says.
And while it is possible to communicate without a disability, language isn’t always a barrier to people using it.
“I know it’s frustrating for me, because it makes me feel so invisible, but you just need to accept that there’s a limit,” says Helen.
“You can’t do anything else in this world.”
If there’s one thing disabled people have in common, it is the ability to make a difference.
They’re the people who have been given a chance to make something of themselves, and they’re the ones who are helping us create a future where people can live their lives with dignity.
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