Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Be Kind: Part One -- Autistic vs. Having Autism

[Originally posted on 6/11/13]

My whole life I have been such a peace maker and very passive. Ive always hated confrontation and would just make myself suck it up whenever someone or something bothered me. I just took it. I want my children to stand up for themselves and for what is right. I need to lead by example. I decided if i dont like something, i need to try to change it.

Most of you (non ASD families) are not aware that many of the terms you use are very offensive, and ive never said anything for fear of embarrassing someone or upsetting them. It is not doing anyone any good not informing them of their mistake, its only because you do not know, that you make the mistake to begin with. So here it goes...


Be Kind: Part One -- Autistic vs. Having Autism

Using the term "Autistic" over the term "Has Autism" is very controversial in the ASD "community." I have tried hard to just realize that people who don't deal with ASD in their homes do not understand that they are being offenseive. But i cringe and automatically get defensive when you say that my son is "Autistic" or use the word "Autistic" in general. I dont feel like i should have to cringe anymore. 

So as i mentioned the term is very controversial in the ASD community. The people who use the word "Autistic" to describe themselves and/or their children, are the same ones who find it a blessing to "be Autistic." They get very upset when they hear mothers like me, who are sad, angry or upset about their child having Autism. But to THOSE people who find it a "blessing," they obviously do not live the same life i do. They are obviously able to function and communicate in a world where my son can not. To be "Autistic" is a blessing to them. In our home it is not. In our home it is a cause for heartache and a very difficult life for not only Jeremy and I but mostly our sweet Recker. Our sweet Recker is the one who has to endure this trial in his life. Yes, TRIAL. How can you consider not being able to communicate, having an extremely hard time being out in public places because of his ASD & SPD, the looks he gets for his stimming in public, how are those things BLESSINGS? This does not mean we would want to change him or love Recker more any other way, it simply means that Autism has made our lives extremely difficult, and challenging for Recker. He has to deal with things that no 3 year old boy should have to deal with.

We do not use the word Autistic to describe Recker. Autism is not WHO Recker is. He is so much more than that. 

First and foremost....

He is a 3 year old boy.
He is a brother, son, nephew, cousin and grandson.
He is a little blondie.
He is a comedian.
He is a cuddler, kisser and sweetheart.
He is a lover of water.
He is brave.
He is strong and fast.
He is a friend to everyone.
He is Recker.
Those are the things we use to describe him. 

He is not Autistic, he "has Autism." 

It may seem odd to you and that there is not really a difference. But just a few little words can make a HUGE difference. The way we arrange words can change the whole meaning of something and the way we look at and feel towards it. By using the terminology "has autism" it puts the person first before the disability or condition, and emphasizes the worth of the individual as a person not just a condition. 

For example cancer patients are referred to as "people with cancer" or  "people who have cancer" as opposed to "cancerous people." Do you see how HUGE a difference just rearranging your words can make? PUT THE PERSON BEFORE THE DISABILITY. 

Person-first language is a philosophy of putting individuals before their disability. As you will see, this is about more than just language; it goes deeper into our attitudes toward others and how those attitudes translate into action. The label or identification that one’s condition or disability receives from a doctor is just that: a label. It is a way of broadly characterizing a group of symptoms under a recognizable and universal description so that treatment and services can be provided. It doesn’t speak to a person’s value or abilities. However, historically those with disabilities have been characterized as broken or frail, which makes it easy to see the impact language has on how accepted individuals are in their communities. Society at large has used these labels as a way of marginalizing others’ potential and fitting them into a neat little box from which they will never break free (Snow, 2010).

Please be considerate next time you are speaking to or about someone with Autism. Remember that, their disability isnt who they are. They are someone of value and worth far beyond their disability or disease. 



Recker HAS Autism. He is not Autistic.






Snow, K. (2010) To ensure inclusion, freedom, and respect for all, it’s time to embrace people first language. Retrieved on March 3, 2011 from www.disabilityisnatural.com.


2 comments:

  1. I am an autistic student, flutist, blogger, Minecraft player, and fish tank owner. If I should go out of my way to refer to myself as a "person with autism", then I should also be "someone of Asian heritage" rather than "Japanese-American", "someone with Christ" rather than "a Christian", or "someone who plays the flute" rather than "a flutist". Autism is an integral part of who I am and I will not mask it or be ashamed of it.

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  2. Your kid and his autism are inseparable -- they're one and the same, indivisible. When you say you hate the autism or wish he wasn't autistic you're basically saying you hate your kid for who he is.

    It's like a very, say, Christian parent whose son comes out to them as gay. The patently truly love their sin, cannot accept that he's homosexual and adopt a "hate the sin" (homosexuality) while loving the sinner (their son). Do you think that gay kid feels loved by his parents? I'm going w/no.

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