Letter: Political correctness and disability terminology

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have a sister, Felicity, who is severely autistic. Believe me when I say that there's nothing that can be done now to 'cure' her condition, although plenty have tried.

But a lot has been done to improve her quality of life through education. Plenty have tried that, too, including her nurses and her family. She is keen to learn: she likes to speak German, she likes to read, she writes legibly, she enjoys classical music. She doesn't suffer from any learning difficulties, within her limitations; she learns as well as you or I. You couldn't ever have a sensible conversation with her, though.

She is as mentally handicapped as someone with a broken spine is physically handicapped, and in her case it doesn't get better. It does get more comfortable, I think, the more she learns and understands the world around her. She'll never understand much, I suppose, but her schooling is a great help and a joy to her.

I have never in my life heard such tosh as that expressed by People First and a bunch of charity and social workers who are too logically challenged to understand what they're talking about. I am not going to call my sister a person with learning difficulties, because I know that's not her problem.

I'm pleased that Mencap is digging in its heels. As Yossarian said when asked: 'What kind of a name is that?' it's Mencap's name, and there's no reason in the world to change it.

Yours faithfully,


London, NW6

20 July