baby sitting in grass with paint on his arm and pantsWhat you write in child abuse investigation reports can greatly influence what happens with a child’s case.

Avoid language about that child that is demeaning, such as wheelchair bound, can only grunt, suffers from cerebral palsy.

Instead, use respectful language that refers to the child first and the disability second. Examples: Child communicates nonverbally, child has cerebral palsy, child uses a wheelchair.

Write what you observed about the child without making interpretations: Child’s wheelchair was broken, child communicated yes and no by blinking eyes, family members said child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Document any information in reports about the child’s disability, as well as any accommodations needed, and what responses were most and least helpful.

(Adapted from Office for Victims of Crime and Shelton)