There are many words that make me cringe:
- Albino – it has many negative connotations and is often used in a derogatory way. As a result, most in the albinism community prefer to be referred as person with albinism (PWA).
- Bae – why? Just why? Honestly, what does this even mean?
- My bad – this makes no grammatical sense and I refuse to use it. And I WILL judge you if you use it.
- Retard – often called the “R-word” this is another term with a history of misuse. I truly do cringe whenever I hear it, which is thankfully, much less these days.
But the term I detest most of all?
Whenever I catch myself saying this, I mentally step back and correct myself. Whenever I hear my kids say this, I challenge them to change their view.
“I can’t” is an admission of defeat. And while there are many things in life that I can’t do, there are many others that I can – and I want to concentrate more on those things I can do.
I especially detest the term when it’s used as an excuse.
I caught Gilbert the other day saying he couldn’t do something because he has autism.
Suffice to say, I made my feelings known to him, very clearly. There is no excuse for using his condition as an excuse. Particularly when he hadn’t really given things a fair go in the first place.
It’s just plain lazy. While I acknowledge that autism does make some things hard for him, he is still capable of so much. And this is the same for everyone on the spectrum.
It’s just over a week until World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 (next Saturday!) which also heralds the beginning of Autism Awareness month. A month where a spotlight shines on people with autism around the world with the aim of raising acceptance and understanding of a condition that is well known yet so little understood.
I want to use the month to focus on the positives of the condition. To highlight everything that people on the spectrum can do, rather than focusing on everything they can’t.
Because autism is not a tragedy.
It is merely a different way of operating and thinking.
To show my support, and to promote acceptance, I’ve committed to walking 15,000 steps for autism each day from April 2 through to April 9. I’ll be walking to raise funds for Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT), the organisation that gave us so much help and support in the early stages and who continue to help us, through to this day.
It’s the least I can do after everything they have done for us.
Meanwhile, please think of me next Saturday. Besides being World Autism Acceptance Day and the day I begin my challenge of walking 15,000 steps daily, we will also be celebrating Gilbert’s 12th birthday with a sleepover – with 10 of his friends, no less.
Which is completely fitting & entirely crazy, considering we weren’t even confident that he’d ever enjoy experiences like this when he was first diagnosed with autism, 8 years ago now.
And that’s why I’m walking. To show the positives of autism. To show what we can do as an autism family.
To fight against the notion of “can’t” – because we can.
Do you have a word that makes you cringe?
And can you lend me your support – for both my fundraising challenge and the even greater challenge of surviving a sleepover with at least 10 pre-pubescent boys????