Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Names are power

Time away from home, gives a person plenty of time to think. This week amongst other things I have been thinking about my use of words, and a conversation turned to the power of words, names and labels. This is a topic which has been also dealt with over at Half Past Normal, where Angela has discussed the power of swear words at pre-school.

Westies are a bit like the Scottish it seems. Chances are that makes us a bit like the Irish, the East English, the French, Canadians, South Americans and people from a wide range of other regions: We swear. More than a little bit. We can also be a little more “blunt” than “direct”, yes I call a spade a “f*ing shovel with a handle at the end” if somebody doesn’t quite know what I mean. Like a lot of parents whose child is not as verbal as other children that age, we worry what situation our child might end up in when they suddenly come up with the choice words we would prefer they not quite know.

However, one type of thing I try very hard to do, is labelling people. As in, “you are such an idiot.” I would much rather say “that is an idiotic thing to do.”

“Only an idiot would do that”. “Don’t be an idiot.” “Are you an idiot?” Hmm, these would be murky grounds for me.

With this strong underlying concept in mind: why is it I get so concerned about the difference between “my autistic son” and “my son, who has Autism?” For what it’s worth, I feel like “my autistic son” is a lot more natural – as natural as “my Japanese wife” which is much more natural than “my wife, who is Japanese.”


<small>No, my wife is not Japanese. That was just an example.</small>


3 responses to “Names are power

  1. saliendamus June 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    An interesting thing to think on

  2. The Bright Side of Life June 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Hmmm, my son has autism or my autistic son… there will always be someone who disagrees or shakes their head in agreement!!! At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. Don’t you think? 🙂

    • Westie June 29, 2012 at 11:46 am

      I think we should be free to use language in the way that is most natural for the context. Sometimes it’s more natural to talk about your son/student/? “who has autism”, sometimes it’s more natural to speak about an “autistic (person)”.

      The deaf community don’t seem to have a problem with being identified as being deaf. But then others seem to prefer to call them hearing impaired. I think the deaf community don’t see not being able to hear as an impairment. The same with functioning autistic people – something tells me that Temple Grandin doesn’t care if she is Autistic, or a person with Autism.

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