(Image from Photobucket - cryingbabybrowneyes)
“What's in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet”
I disagree with the bard on this.
There is a lot in a name
For words mean things
A rose called by some other name – would not be the same.
For instance, if we started using the word “tomato”, instead of the word “rose”
( just try it out for size, as in – “My husband gave me a dozen tomatoes for our anniversary” – and you will know what I mean.
Even If you add the disclaimer – when I say “tomato”, I really mean “rose”)
Soon the way we experience the rose, will be imbued with tomato-feelings
For this reason, I have simply loved the way in which the special needs community has united against using the R –word
( A brief explanation for readers who are not in the special needs community. The word “retarded”- which is thankfully slowly going out of business - is deeply hurtful to our community. It uses a diagnostic term for a disability, as an insult. Plus, the word is also used to deride kiddos with special needs. Same with phrases like “rides the short bus”. Very hurtful when your precious baby, in fact, rides that bus )
It really is wonderful that the special needs community has come together to ask for respect in the language that is spoken to us.
But I think there are two other places that we need to be very careful with language.
The first, are the words we use to ourselves to talk of our children .
Even the language of our inner dialogue
For instance, I never use the word “normal” to describe kids who don’t have special needs. I use the term “Neurotypical”( as in “Neurotypical kids are so charming”).
When asked what this means – I will usually reply that neurotypical means “non-autistic kids” or “typically developing” kids.
I will carefully skirt around using the word “normal”
For if I did – I would by default -be describing my child as abnormal.
And he is not.
He is just …..not-neurotypical.
But the final and most important aspect of language, is about the words are we choose, when we speak of our children in their presence
I think about the word – “disabled “–
I say it in my head- dis- abled
While there is nothing inherently wrong with the tern , I much prefer person with disabilities
But the word disabled? I imagine what it would be like to have that as part of a vulnerable little child’s self concept from the very beginning.
Then I think about the word differently –abled
Well, that feels completely different
Its not about being PC.
Its about something infinitely deeper
Its about self concept and identity
I think some of the best gifts we can give our children are about how we make them feel about themselves
How we look on them with adoration and how we speak of them in a language of love
Sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.
This post has been written by Floortime Lite Mama who blogs about her life and her adorable 6 year old child with autism here.