The Wanderer
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The Language of Special Ed and Adult Autism

I am human memeGood morning. I found this photo on Facebook.  It's a look at the language we use with our loved ones with autism. Or, our autistic loved ones. Even that word choice is personal. Two of my daughters are in the adult services world. One is on the last few weeks of her school journey. If I were to convey one suggestion to everyone who is part of my daughters' lives, it would be to read this meme/photo and think about how we ALL speak about people with autism. Parents need to make a big mindset shift as our kids grow up. I had to re-calibrate how I think about and treat them. Sure, I'm their Mom. but my Mom doesn't treat me like a baby.  And I can't do that to my daughters. One still loves vintage Sesame Street on her iPad. One tracks the Nick Jr schedule like a guided missile. But they are WOMEN.  I never disallow the things that make them feel safe and happy. But I don't overly encourage them either. I want them to move them forward, while respecting the things they need and love.  They are adults with civil rights. I allow them to make choices. Skip breakfast? I sure did at 27 (and 37, and 47 and never you mind.) Decide what to wear? As long as it's within weather reason, yes. They are more than their behavior plans and Individual (Education Plans) and the world of DDS-speak.

They are human.



The important part nomenclature in special education is too use "harsh" and honest" words that remind people of the severity of physical, mental, and developmental disabilities. The political correct squad went way too far their new terms make light of the seriousness of many disabilities. Is sarcoma cancer challenging cells in the connective tissue is type 1 diabetes challenging glucose levels?!


Speaking of communications NS language.
Those with autism, even mild seem to pick up, and adopt language and attitudes from their associates and peers from those that they have daily contact with. They don't seem to develop their own thoughts about people and situations.

And they will never go out on their own and get a job. Then they have to forced, pry their fingers off the door seals, no choice of gong to an interview or handing in a resume. Then when they do get the job, it can't be in with rough people

Some years back there was astonishment about an attempted murder. Apparently some pallet company hired anyone they could get which meant the learning disabled as well as cracks, lowlifes, unsavory men.

These unsavory men talked a mentally limited coworker into buddying with them and going to see a cave over the weekend. Truth is they robbed him, tried to beat him to death, and tried to bury him under a pile of rocks in the cave. Other tourists came by because it is a popular thing to see and found him.

They got him help, he was so bad off that the local hospital transported him to a medical university . Of course the pallet company did not offer their employers health insurance. So there is that element to an already difficult situation that we as care givers - not official care givers have to remember. .

Anita Donnelly

A related situation I recently thought about. I would go pick up my son from special Ed or therapy. His teacher/caregiver/aide would greet me, in front of him, with everything he “did wrong” that day.
This pretty much made me secretly cry in frustration every time . Instead of joyously greeting my son, I agonized over behaviors I literally could not control. Finally I woke up. Finally I thought about how this must make HIM feel. I told staff not to tell me what happened in front of him. I asked them how they would feel if their friend came to pick them up and their boss recited all they had done wrong that day. I said I only wanted to hear good stuff in front of him, or nothing at all. If they needed to tell me about behaviors email or phone me.

I finally realized this was a quest for appreciation for how “difficult” working with these children was. I know that it is. I know these are mostly great people highly stressed out. But my son is a wonderul person and he did not deserve that. It’s no wonder he didn’t want to go back to places that reported all his 4 year old crimes to me every time we left. I am ashamed I didn’t figure this out for a while. But it was life changing.
Kim you sound like the best mom ever: Thank you for writing this!


Really appreciate this post. It’s a delicate balance as many things with autism are. We try to let my son choose what shirt to wear instead of just picking for him. Little things such as that give him some independence.

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