Day 22 of 99 Days to FASDay: No More External Brains Please!


This suggestion was a real surprise to me when I read it.  External brain was the term used before in describing “what you had to be” to support a person with FASD. What was the thinking behind removing “external brain” from FASD language?

The term external brain was created many years ago to give people an understanding that someone with FASD may require coaching at times to help with certain brain functions, like memory or problem solving. However, it has since been rejected by some as offensive because it implies that they need a whole new brain to be “normal”. A support person is a more accurate and neutral term. ~ Looking After Each Other Project

While it is a great analogy, we don’t say someone with other disabilities needs extra parts to live life. We usually refer to their support person, circle, network or coach. Or if it was a physical piece of equipment it was a tool or resource. In this sense, the helper is the resource. So it makes sense. Perhaps it was useful years ago, but it may be time to refer to the actual required support person. I know many people have used the analogy of a brain in a wheelchair to explain a hidden disability.

Some may not want to use these suggestions. But I think if the suggested language is coming from those in the FASD community then maybe we should examine how we are referring to people. Not everyone will agree. And again, we need to respect the wishes of an individual with FASD.

What do you think?

Click the Language Guide to find all the suggestions.

See you back tomorrow for Day 23 of 99 Days to FASDay!