I wrote this back in December 2011 but I think it’s still very relevant.
What does wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” and saying “my child is Autistic” have in common? Read on to find out.
Something has been bothering me lately and it’s time I sound off and speak my mind. I apologize if I offend anyone with my opinions but they are what they are.
I’ve grown tired of all the political correctness police out there in the world today.
I fully understand that no one wants to be offend, or worse offend someone else, but it’s gotten out of control.
I noticed something this year. I found myself wishing people a Happy Holidays instead of a Merry Christmas. I realized that last week and you know what, it bothers me.
I also realized why I was doing that as well.
I have found that by wishing someone a Merry Christmas when they don’t celebrate Christmas, is offensive to some people. I have been yelled at a few times by people, who were offended by what I thought was a kind gesture on my part.
The last thing in the world I wanted to do was upset someone by simply wishing them a Merry Christmas.
I eventually became afraid to say that for fear of the response I would get, and to be completely honest with you, that’s really sad. People say things like, “by wishing me a Merry Christmas, you’re being insensitive to my beliefs”. Really? My intention was nothing short of wishing them well and it totally backfired.
Something similar happens in the Autism community as well and to be quite frank, I’ve grown tired of it.
Let me say that I’m speaking from my own, personal experience here. If you haven’t experienced what I’m going to talk about, consider yourself lucky.
As my blog becomes more and more popular, I come in to contact with a great number of people. Most of these people are special needs parents themselves simply wanting to talk or share their experiences and I love hearing from them.
However, this past year I have found a growing number of people that feel the need to correct my choice of words. I have been corrected by other special needs parents who seem hypersensitive and very easily offended by the use of the word Autistic.
For example, during the course of a conversation I’ll say something like “my son is Autistic“. These people feel the need to say something like “don’t you mean your son with Autism“.
Typically, I respond by saying, “don’t they mean the same thing“.
When I’m corrected by these parents, they explain that calling my child Autistic, is offensive and degrading. By saying my son is Autistic, I’m defining him by his diagnosis.
This is complete and utter nonsense in my opinion.
I mentioned the politically correct mine field earlier. This is what I meant. You never know when things are going to blowup in your face.
To me, whether I say Autistic or with Autism, I am referring to the exact same thing. They are both, descriptive words used to describe a condition. Neither of which I personally think are offensive. Now, if someone used the word “retard” or something similar, that’s a completely different story.
I think that “retard” is deemed offensive by most people and rightfully so.
Why are some people so sensitive to the word Autistic when I’ve spoken to many adults on the Spectrum who actually prefer the word Autistic and don’t find it offensive in the least.
I think it’s important to remember that whether you use the word Autistic or with Autism, it doesn’t change the reality of the situation.
To be completely honest, when you put so much negative weight on a single word like, Autistic, you can give the impression that there is something wrong with being Autistic as it means the same as with Autism.
The reality is, that the challenge, joy and heartache of raising my 3 amazing boys on the spectrum is not impacted, one way or the other by my use of the word Autistic. I would imagine that most people would find that they have the same experience, regardless of their word choice.
We are approaching a new year and so we have a chance for a new beginning. Let’s take advantage of that opportunity and embrace what makes us different instead being divided by them.
The next time someone wishes you a Merry Christmas -when you don’t celebrate it- why not just say thank you, instead of correcting them. It was likely that the person was trying to wish you well and had no intention of offending you.
Likewise, the next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone and they refer to their child as being Autistic instead of with Autism, why not just finish the conversation instead of correcting their choice of words. You may find that you learn something.
I’m of the opinion that we are better when united, despite our differences, instead of being divided by them.
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