Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Autistic" makes me cringe!

I know. Out of all the challenges parents and individuals on the spectrum face, how to refer to an individual diagnosed with autism should not be one of them. However, some people, including parents, often refer to individuals with ASD as being "autistic". This term, however implied, kind of gets under my skin. I can't help it. Why? I'll ask you one question. How do you refer to an individual that "has" something, like cancer? Do you refer to them by saying, "Oh, she's cancerous"? I doubt you do. You would usually refer to this individual as having cancer. The cancer does not define this individual, who they are, and vice versa. An individual with Down Syndrome, is not defined by being Down Syndome-ish, etc. So why does it make sense to refer to an individual with autism as being autistic? Autism does not define my sons. They are each unique individuals with their own interests, personalities, likes, dislikes, etc. They have symptoms of autism. The autism symptoms are merely a part of them and does not define who they are. Terms like "autistic" only add to the negative stigma surrounding autism that, in this day in age with the increase in diagnosis, should no longer be a part of society's impression of our children. Let's remember to apply the "person first" mentality when we refer to individuals that have autism.

Carry on, my friends, and raise a little awareness.