Sunday, March 29, 2009

Defying definition.

I wanted to sit down and write so many times this week. But, it seemed that every time I did try to sit down at the computer, someone needed something. Sometimes, I feel like the human snack dispensing "Queen of need fulfilment", without any power...or a crown..though I could probably pick one up at Walmart...Hold on a second, I have to get a yogurt and a banana, and cookies for Oscar, Sammy's markers from off of the fridge, put Lily to bed, and walk the dogs. Now, where was I...

At first, I thought I was going to comment on the campaign to get rid of the "R" word. I had a lot to say about promoting respectful language for everyone. That, changing a word doesn't necessarily change attitudes. I had examples, charts, graphs... a guest speaker.(not really)..but then, Sammy needed more paper...and the cat needed to be fed...By the time I sat back down again, I lost my train of thought..

So many things have happened recently, there is much to discuss. There was President Obama's gaffe on"The Tonight Show". He compared his bowling to that of someone in the special Olympics...which brings me back to the "R" word campaign. If we are going to get rid of the "R" word-then we also have to do something about the word "special". We have "special ed", the "special bus", "special needs" and of course the "special Olympics". If you were to ask someone just exactly what the word "special" meant in any of the above phrases, more than likely you would be told...retarded. "Special", by definition, means "distinguished by some unusual quality" or "held in particular esteem". If that were truly the case, then president Obama's comment should have been construed as bragging. But, since he did call Tim Shriver, head of the "special Olympics" to apologize ...I guess that isn't so. How did the word "special", become less than ...special-and why? Have we ever held people with developmental disabilities in particular esteem? If the "Special Olympics" are so special, why aren't they televised-in prime-time? This in turn led me to think of other words whose meanings serve a dual purpose. The word "gay" has two very different definitions. Either "Happily excited/merry" or "homosexual." So I guess that would mean that prop 8 in California could make a gay person.. not so gay? Hey Mormon church, mission accomplished?! I mean absolutely no disrespect to any person ..I'm just trying to make a point. Focusing on one word to define similar traits among many people in order to group them together, is a dangerous thing..

I decided to look up the definition for the word "autism". Which, according to Websters dictionary, is "a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotypical behavior patterns" Does the above definition describe my boys? Yes, to an extent...they are both so different. However, autism does not define THEM, nor does "special" or any other phrase that may be tossed around. Which is why I don't use those words with my kids. Besides, I was lambasted a few months ago by someone who decided that my kids didn't have "real" autism. I asked him if he thought they were faking it...he had no answer. "Real "autism. IS there a definition? Some magical word or phrase that defines a person with autism as a whole? I don't think so. I look at my kids, all of them. Each are unique, individual, with their own set of needs. Special in the real sense of the word.

My question is this...Is there any word that defines any of us as a whole? Is it even necessary to have one? I know that I wouldn't want to be defined by words like "retarded, or "special" or even "autistic"...Nor do I want to be called "fat ass , lazy, ugly( sorry, I mean "buttocks enhanced", "motivation challenged," and "handsome") or any other such word that in turn suggest that I am somehow less, or second class. It is 2009, and we are still using the "R" word, and the "N" word and many other consonants that seperate us from the one thing we have in common. Humanity. Unfortunately, To quote George Orwell in Animal Farm, "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and well said. I love your blog.