Autism Is Autism and Your Words Can Hurt – Finding Cooper’s Voice

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Comments are made; often in the passing, sometimes with direction.

I wonder how deeply some people think about what they say to others. Do they consider if they use hurtful words?

I’ve been so fortunate during my journey thus far into motherhood. I have received so much support for the way our children are growing. Sometimes, the narrative changes direction.

Sometimes, people are surprised to discover autism is a part of our world. It puzzles me.

Honestly, with a little knowledge, it is blatantly obvious how neurodivergence is interwoven around us, so I find myself surprised at their surprise.

Then follows the words.

Intended as positive and supportive comments, many of these words are not reflective and are wholly unsupportive of our world.

“I would never have guessed”, “She must be high functioning”, “Just needs some discipline”, “They don’t act like *insert friends grandson’s name here*”, “But she talks so well”, “Kids don’t sleep anyway, stop worrying”, “They will outgrow it”, “It’s just a phase”…

A smattering of statements that have been said to me, I’m presuming in an attempt to make me feel better. But, perhaps, it is a lack of awareness. And that is exactly why I am here. To spread awareness. So let’s dispel some myths so the hurtful words can stop.

You didn’t need to guess, autism isn’t tattooed on a forehead. Your words hurt.

There is no ‘high functioning’. Absolutely, some individuals require more constant or specialized support, but I assure you, autism is autism. Your words hurt.

You can’t discipline anything out of anyone. This is archaic and wrong. Don’t ever consider violence as an option to make YOUR world a more comfortable place for YOU. Your words hurt.

You are absolutely correct. My daughter, in the 10 minutes you have been around her, does not “act like” anyone else. She is her own person. Comparison is a thief. When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person. Your words hurt.

It is true, autism is wrapped in verbal struggles.

It is, afterall, unique socialization and communication that leads to an autism diagnosis. Being verbal does not therefore mean you are less autistic. You simply cast aspersions upon that individual. Your words hurt.

Many, many autistics struggle with sleep. No, it isn’t part of our struggle simply because she is a child. Your words hurt.

And most certainly, no, this isn’t a phase.

Autism isn’t part time. Advocacy isn’t part time. By listening, your words will no longer hurt. By learning your words will no longer hurt. By growing together, our words will no longer hurt.



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