Disability Language - Deeper Than You Imagine
A very insightful article (link above) with profound deep thought from someone who has been working with various disabilities for a decade or so!
Sharing some of my personal takeaways and reflections:
FIRSTLY, CONTEXT MATTERS
Different terms could be appropriate in different contexts
SECONDLY, MORE THAN A JUST A TERMINOLOGY
The most recent trend in the disabled community is to advocate for Identity-First language (such as "Autistic person") as opposed to Person-first language (such as "person with autism")
I LOVE the part of the article about the values behind the choice of words.
Indeed, some conveniently shrug it off as "semantics" or conveniently say "don't get hung up with mere terminology" - when in reality, there is a lot of DEEPER meanings, value, societal value, meaning and paradigm underneath the terms.
The more we use certain terms, the more we reinforce the desired or undesired mindsets behind it.
That is why some of us autisitc advocates are quick to correct people to use "autistic person" when they use "person with autism".
THIRDLY, TRUE EMPATHY, COMPASSION etc. Is MEASURED BY YOUR ACTIONS FROM YOUR HEART and HOW YOU TREAT OTHERS
I With reference to the section in the article on "our language conveys our internalised feelings and perceptions" and the very last paragraph on how people don't realise the implications of their actions, thoughts and beliefs
● I have encountered many times in the last 10 over years of my life, how non-disabled people tell me the things I say can be "stupid", "offending", "insensitive",... even though I don't mean it, but rather it is due to my *ocial unawareness, attributable in part to my autism... in other words, they made assumptions WITHOUT seeking first to understand
● and yet as as the article says, when they use terminologies we dislike and we correct them, they "gaslight us with accusations" or say we are being too sensitive or shouldn't get hung up on labels
●There is a fundamental problem here - DOUBLE STANDARDS, isn't it?
Expect us to be more sensitive to us, but they don't do likewise to us.
● If we were to play by their standards, we should be calling them "stupid", "offensive", "insensitive" in return. Yet we don't. Instead we seek to understand, we give the benefit of the doubt that they perhaps had no ill intentions... doesn't this show autistics are full of grace and compassion?
● My message to these people who treat us this way is: Do unto others what you want others to do unto you
We often judge ourselves by our intentions yet judge others by their actions. Next time, before you take offense, or call people "insensitive" or "rude", take a step back and examine the intentions of the person. Put yourself in his/her shoes.
With the same measure which you judge others, you will be judged by others