Language matters. It really does matter.
All over the internet from parent blogs to research branches of psychology departments to National Charities and even state and national representative bodies, language about autism and autistics perpetuates the idea that autism is something outside a person, something that can be excised, something that is evil, wrong, damaged and undesirable.
The constant barrage of the two little words that do this is difficult to counter but yes it matters. Yes it really does matter. For every time an autistic declared identity first language there are it seems at least a dozen representations of ‘with autism’.
Yes here I am again banging on about language, I am sure there are some whose eyes are glazing over because they think, here we go again. Identity first, I am not sick, Âûtism is not a disease. Well yes I am. Think about it. those two words are a bit like a suffix. Ready to be added on to verbs and so easily attached to negativity….
- living – with autism
- suffering – with autism
- dealing – with autism
- has a brother – with autism
- doing battle – with autism
- crusading – with autism
- sick – with autism
- disordered – with autism
A quick list developed in just a minute displays just what I am getting at. The pathological model that really does come from a model of deficit. A model thats focus is purely on what is missing from so called normal.
Yes, language really does matter. What if we were to change it around a bit and change Autism to gay would we dare say any of those things above. Oh but we did, didn’t we, just as we did with females in the past. Yes homosexuality was previously listed as a disorder within that volume referred to by psychologists and psychiatrists alike. That DSM book once, well until as recently as 1980 held being gay to be a disordered existence. Aversion therapy and change therapy, and encouraging them to just deal with it suck it up and be normal were all strategies to cure this terrible disorder. Thankfully this is not the case for these people any longer. But for Âûtistics this is where we’re at.
Yes, language really does matter. For as long as we do not speak out against such language and characterisation of suffering, disease, disorder ad sickness the Âûtistic community, and importantly the Âûtistic children will be vulnerable…
Vulnerable to predators like the late so called Dr Jeff Bradstreet. Who even this day his followers are trying to hail him as a hero.
Vulnerable to predators like Kerri Rivera gathering followers and hiding in foreign havens whilst selling their poison.
Vulnerable to conspiracy theorists and crazies like Jenny McCarthy and Natural News whipping up a storm of rubbish theories about eating cucumbers or avocados.
Vulnerable to research like that of the former Dr Wakefield, paid for by the lawyers, to create the syndrome that they seek to file a law suit for. Research so discredited the paper is withdrawn, the Dr has his right to practice stripped.
Vulnerable to myths abounding that vaccines to control genuinely dangerous diseases are blamed for causing autism. That the pervasiveness of this myth is difficult to break that research involving hundreds of thousands of autistic people still struggle to banish it to history as it should.
Vulnerable to creating legions of parents, families, caregivers that believe having an Âûtistic child is a fate worse than death. So bad they would literally risk the death of their children to avoid it. So bad that they would seek the help of some of these monsters listed above.
Yes, language, really does matter. It matters more than we dare imagine.
I read of a challenge to avoid the use of the word autism for a month. A challenge to think about how you use that word. That perhaps in avoiding using it it may change the way you speak about autistic people, about neurodivergent people.
Certainly an interesting experiment..
Yes language really matters. It matters because I am a person. It matters because my autistic friends are people. Human persons. My autistic children are people. It matters too, because it is what we as an autistic community desire. It matters as part of being taken seriously, being listened to, being accepted as valid and credible sources of information about ourselves and our neurotype.
Recently I listened to a 15 minute segment of radio whilst a guest and a host belittled and defamed an autistic person. Made claims of their very ability to be able to understand things such as how to follow an MMS protocol. All the while nicely pushing MMS as a non dangerous thing, as a thing that was not just this but positive.
The constant language of deficit and pathology is what creates such a situation where a crusader against poison can be defamed on the basis of their neurotype.
Yes, language matters. Not just because I and others want to be referred to by identity first language, but because the very future of our role in self determination depends on it.
It’s time my friends to call upon all our national bodies to stop referring to autism as something outside of us. As something we carry but as it is, intricately, intrinsically absolutely interwoven into us so completely that it is inseparable from us.
A number of declarations need to be made:
- We are different we are not less
- We want nothing about us with us
- Listen to us we are Actually Autistic
- Watch us as we are Living Autistically
- Stop wasting so much money on research because we do not need a cure
- No more experiments and dangerous treatments we are human persons
- No more ABA and the like we don’t need or want to be indistinguishable from our peers.
Shout it loud my friends. Shout it loud.