Making a Shift in Definition


I would like to think that the definition of words which are often used to define something negative can be reconsidered.


To look at the definition and potentially reframe it in a more positive light.


In a way that can encourage an action rather than simply instilling a negative thought or connotation.


Let's consider the word "disability".


Unfortunately, when considering the prefix "dis-", here is what Merriam-Webster has to say:

  • deprive of

  • exclude or expel from

  • opposite or absence of

These prefix definitions are all horribly negative when combined with "ability":

  • deprived of ability

  • excluded from ability

  • the absence of ability

Let's STOP that! The negativity that exudes from these "definitions" are abhorrent, and humans, let alone human children, should NEVER be considered in this manner.


So... let's shift our thinking to consider differences rather than disabilities.


A difference is neither negative nor exclusionary. It is simply "the quality of state of being dissimilar" or " being unlike" or, my favorite, "a characteristic that distinguishes one from another or from the average" (from M-W).

When we can look at differences as something to be celebrated, there is a definite shift in definition of how we view people, but there also grows a new way of thinking.


Our thoughts become creative, curious, and wondering.

  • How can I help Juan with comprehension?

  • What is the best way for Sarah to access the article that she needs to read?

  • Which children in my class would benefit from a peer partner or small group work rather than working alone?

When we can work to meet the differences of every child, we help to grow their independence, confidence, and learning achievement.


We foster empowerment.


Every child is different. Let's stop putting them all in the same box and expecting the same outcome at the same time, in the same way.


Build your toolbox of strategies and supports so you can meet your children where they are...


Because where they are, is not wrong...


All it takes is a shift to see it differently.

For more teacher and parent resources, join The Academic Inclusion Network.


For school communities, go to inclusiveology.com for information on professional development, coaching, and workshops.





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