“If I didn’t know, I would never sense there was something wrong with him.”
When I receive this feedback from others concerning my son being on the spectrum, I now perceive it as a backhanded compliment. Before I came to peace with excusing other people’s choice of vocabulary, it stung like a punch in the face.
Wrong with him.
I recently referred to the reliable Merriam-Webster for a definition of wrong, just out of curiosity.
-not according to moral standard,
-not right or proper according to a code, standard, or convention,
-not according to truth or facts
First, I must state that I truly despise that our society has an ongoing push for political correctness. The opposition to being PC is our right to freedom of speech, and the argument gets heavy when race and religion is the subject matter. Recently, I learned the term “Indian Style” sitting in schools has been banned and “Criss-Cross Applesauce” was subbed-in because the prior was offensive to Native Americans. Christmas must be “Happy Holidays.” The removal of “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Boycotting comedians for their material. I am all for advocating social progress because America definitely needs work, but I also can’t imagine living my life in constant scrutiny of how something can be offensive. Except when you refer to my son as wrong.
And Donald Trump is still an asshole.
I am also not one who will be offended if you want to label my son autistic. I know there are many parents who are outraged when their loved one on the autism spectrum is referred to as autistic. “My son with autism” would be acceptable. “Autistic”=bad. But seriously, let’s not get our panties in a bunch. The word is used to describe the developmental disability, and I don’t see the need to beat around the bush to clarify the adjective. Alex Lowery covers this topic well (http://www.alexlowery.co.uk/am-i-autistic-or-do-i-have-autism/)
The definition of wrong states that my son is sinful, immoral, improper, and incorrect. While I can agree that he can behave improperly, like that one (ok, maybe 5) time he had a meltdown during library storytime, I find the other adjectives to be harsh and inaccurate.
To define a developmental disability as wrong is just absurd. Autism is many things; challenging, emotional, unique, intriguing, isolating, adventurous, extraordinary, frustrating. I am fortunate that my son is highly functioning, and I am constantly blown away by his brilliance.
He can remember someone’s name after hearing it just once. I know most adults, especially heavy business networkers, would love to have this skill. If he places an item (like a marble) in a hidden spot in the house, he will remember exactly where he placed it if I ask him a month later. He has a running inventory of where all 40+ balls are in the house. The kid has known all of his shapes, letters, and numbers since he was 2, including trapezoids, parallelograms, and rhombuses. If there is a candy sprinkle on the floor 20 feet away, he can use his visual superpowers to identify it.
Regardless of where anyone falls on the spectrum, specifically when others may need more support, I can’t fathom equating their value of life as wrong. When I think of wrong, I think of consequences that were the results of poor decision making. Nobody chooses to be on the autism spectrum.
You can label me overly sensitive, but please rethink labeling my son wrong. Different isn’t wrong. But your choice of words is.