Letter: Appropriate terms for disability: a start, not a solution

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The Independent Online
Sir: My brother is severely autistic. To him the words 'learning difficulties' and 'mentally handicapped' are mere collections of letters on a page. Since his understanding of language is highly restricted, he has no comprehension of the meaning of such words.

To demand, as People First do (Letters, 22 July), that he choose his own 'label' indicates a complete lack of understanding of his condition. How then can this group represent his interests? Their own 'direct experience of learning difficulty' seems to be limited.

To say that my brother has learning difficulties is a well- meaning but misplaced understatement of the truth. He is mentally handicapped and has a right to have this fact recognised, accepted and understood.

Yours faithfully,




22 July