Autism, Empathy, and The R Word

I have to tell you that my son, H, loved watching a somewhat irritating internet show called Fred – which I think is rather much of a sensation with the early teen or pre-adolescent set. Well – a while back I asked him why he wasn’t watching it any more – and he said,  “Fred is dead – he used the R word – so I am not watching that show anymore.”

That was over 4 months ago… and he hasn’t gone back to it.

Last night we went to a movie and I was working hard to remind H that he needed to be quiet in the theatre. This is always a bit of a challenge – as he is so full of questions – and really I do want to encourage that kind of thinking and questioning and social interaction.

He usually does pretty well, but it still is difficult to differentiate that you can talk at home – but the expectations for the theatre are different.

Anyways – last night in the theatre – there was someone who was really very loud at times – and vocalizing and laughing at unexpected times during the movie. I surmised that this person was not neurologically equipped to follow the typical theatre-going social norms, and I was ready to step up in defense of their rights and was rehearsing what I might say if anyone complained.

I was watching… ready to advocate…

I was also ready to explain to H about acceptance and understanding diversity – if he questioned the yelling out… especially when at the same time I was working to have him be more quiet and considering others in the theatre.

You know what?

No one said a thing!!

I didn’t see a single head turn toward where this person was sitting.

H didn’t even notice. Well, perhaps he did – because he hears EVERYTHING – but he didn’t mention it or ask.

I don’t know about his experience with this – because I didn’t query.

I was curious. I thought about it… about digging into his perspective… and about sharing my pride in his response – but I let it slip away.

I love that this is just the way it is for him… it is the way it should be for us all.

I am pretty proud of my kid and my little town!

Things are changing!! Keep writing my friends – you are educating many, you are making a difference, and you are not alone!

Before finalizing this post, I asked H, “Why does the R word matter?”

“Because lots of people are different! I am different – and that should be okay – not bad!” and with a simple shrug and without pause, he headed back to his room – where today, he is apparently outfitting himself with the perfect attire for a Zombie Apocalypse!

Zombie Apocalypse or no… I want this kid on my team!

H has taken the pledge to end the R word at http://www.r-word.org/ and so can we all…

Celebrate Diversity- tulips

___________________________________________________

30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2013)

This post is participating in the  February 2014 T-21 Blog Hop which, for this month, is focused on examining Ableist LanguageFor three days, you can add your posts, both old and new. We’re setting the tone for a year of change.  I plan to read all of the posts. Just click on this image – it will take you to the Linky Tools list.                      

About Leah Kelley

Leah Kelley, MEd., Educator, Ed.D. Student, Parent, Activist, Speaker. Writes blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding & Neurodiversity paradigm. Co producer of documentary: Vectors of Autism. Twitter: @leah_kelley Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/leahkelley13/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/30-Days-of-Autism-Leah-Kelley/154311301315814
This entry was posted in acceptance, Autism, diversity, empathy, the R word and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Autism, Empathy, and The R Word

  1. stefanie says:

    i think when it very obviouds that a person has a disabiliy people are usly good about letting it go younger people may make fun but depends .i have autism sometimes i get stared at an dont no why .i dont care what stranger think .i dont get to wigg out over the r word eathier .i was call that growing up an some thought i was .it depends how it used .i fine it bother typ[pical people more then it dose us .people have gotton so pc now that you feel like you should walk atround wiyth a book of what to say an not @@@@@@@@@@@. at your son age i wount have notivce or thought anything of it on tv show he seems more awaer of the world .i dont like on reality shows how they through the r word around becuse there being ingorent

    Like

    • Leah Kelley says:

      Stefanie, I appreciate that you have shared your perspective and experience. We are encouraging our son to be aware of the world and have good advocacy skills… and he is doing a fine job. I think he would agree with you about the r word in reality shows. I know that I sure do. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Like

  2. stefanie says:

    i want to explain i do try to advocte to about the r word me an my friends it only ok for us to use it among each oyther i guss if we say it even nin a joking way it take back the poewer to us but if i ghear a nt person saying it in piubic or anything i want to hit them but i dont ,i dont know how to deal with those situion like once i was a dunkin an the woman behind the counter say the r word not abouyt a persdon but a situion .an i thought that was rude how dose she no if i had a child that vwas mr i didnt say anything becuse i just diont no how to deal with those things with out getting upset.your son is way hf then i was at his age .my mom an dad hgad to deal with stuipd people who thought i was mr an stuff explsy teachers an told by so called proff i never be able to anything but be in a group home an work shop .but they keep pluging away finding diff therhist then when i was an adult found the best nerou who said i could be doing beter an stuff but i do rember when i was less verble one of my teacher saying i know your in there some were .my parent try to treat me as nt as they could an my thershist to .,i get nuts when some parents think they should let there kid do what ever becuse they have autsm thaty wont help them later on .me an my friends just think that all kids nt to get a litte to baby compared to when we were litte .when kids cant be kids an adults start thinking this is bulling an this is sexuly harrsamt when it not it messe up the kids .i coyuld give these teachers an staff an a@@ in both lession i was teasd an bully even as an adult when trying to woirk .i been molested .i no what what .so ya iu get nuts over nonsences .just wanted to explain myself more but it not ok for nt to say the r word .i have a few friend who have mild downs including a cousin

    Like

  3. Pingback: [Kerry, James and Darwin] Articles that you should probably read. « Believelands

  4. Yay H! You and your fabulous Momma are changing the world!!

    Like

  5. Way to go, H! My 3 grown autistic children are very much like you in thatt they act to make the world a better place and do good for others. While we endeavor to end the use of that word, might I suggest we make it equally important to get people to stop treating others like that whether the word is used or not. Sometimes people, even with the best of intentions, don’t realize they are contributing to making someone feel that way. I think they are good people who would like to know that.

    Like

    • Stefanie says:

      It so hard to no what to do in sitioun a like if I’m out an head someone saying the r word .i still don’t always no when to say something or not since some people are crazy lol is it ok if the person is like working in a store or behind a counter like at dunkin or any thing like that . I no sometimes people no something off with me sometimes I may pass. Lol. For so long it was supper obvious that I had a disibiliatys that when I’m out .i go back an fourth between being ok telling someone I have autism an other days just don’t want to go there explsy since the sandy hook school shooting .some people are very ingorent . I had someone say to me oh I. Thought autism is just a child hood disibilty. Duh. I said we grow up you no. .was called the r word an had people think I was for long time .i no my autism sometime make me come off lower Functioning. Then I am. But it like the boss of me an I can’t all ways help it. Since I become higher. Functioning. It hard sometimes .becuse people can forget till I have a meltdown or something sets me off if I’m in a store an then I’m back to being 4 year old stef. Me an my friends will joke itch each other about being mr only becuse we feel like we taking the sting out if it but it in privet. .but if a NT say it is so not ok. How do you no when to say something an not. Any advice would be good.

      Like

      • Maybe it’s time for me to start writing in my blog. This being Leah’s means I show respect for that and have her respond. I’m an autistic adult, as well … 57 years old and married coming up on 28 years (you already know of my 3 autistic children)

        Like

      • Stefanie says:

        That be great

        Like

      • Leah Kelley says:

        I agree that it can be difficult to know what to say. I asked H what he would say and his to the point response was to just say, “Stop that! I don’t like that! That is not right!”

        If your check on the site I included above (http://www.r-word.org/), should you choose to take the pledge – it then takes you to a follow-up page with suggestions and strategies to talk with others about their use of the R word. I hope that might help.

        autisticexpressions, if you do a post… please do come back and link it up here. I am certain there are others who would be very interested to read it. I know I would want to.

        Like

  6. I was raised at a time where my autism was just called be being quirky … no fear, no prejudice. I, in turned, raised my children the way I’d been. Things are so much more complicated these days and unfortunately the weight of that slips to the children and makes developing coping skills harder than it should be. As far as linking it up if I start blogging … I can design cross stitch project without a thought. I once helped an airline I worked for recover funds that had been sent to other airlines; the autistic strength of patterning. Electronic communication isn’t exactly my best strength … but I’ll try.

    Like

    • Leah Kelley says:

      That’d be spectacular! If you can leave a comment… you can leave a link for sure! Go for it 🙂

      Like

    • Kim Carlisle says:

      This if for autisticexpressions… I know you don’t know me, but I would love to hear from you. My husband and I have 3 boys on the autism spectrum who are now 16, 17 1/2, & 19. They are doing extremely well, and we couldn’t be more proud of them. Our oldest son started college this year (living on campus) which was hard for me because I was so worried not so much about the academics (because they are all so brilliant), but that he would find friends and make those social connections. I knew I wouldn’t be there to protect him, keep him safe, and help pick him back up when he needed it. Each of our guys have endured bullying in the past, so it is something that is always in the back of my mind. Our boys are each such incredible young men, and so very special, that I just want other people to get to know them for who they are. They are so kind, caring & thoughtful, and even have a great sense of humor. Our son has really adjusted to college well & has surprised us by doing so great. I find a lot of encouragement in finding out that you are married with children. I know that this is a desire of our boys, and as a mother I want the very best for them. I just want them to be happy, attain their dreams and goals, and be able to reach their full potential. If you do write a blog, please let me know. As you know parenting kids on the autism spectrum is a learning experience, and I would be happy to learn anything that I could from you. My husband and I have enjoyed our boys immensely, and have told them that we love that they are so special and unique, and that we would not change a thing about them! 🙂 I am not trying to promote myself, but I do have a blog @ kimcarlisle.com if you have anything that you could share with me that would help my husband and myself on this incredible journey as we are now navigating this next step as they are becoming adults. Thank you so much for sharing your story,
      Kim Carlisle

      Like

  7. Leah Kelley says:

    Reblogged this on Thirty Days of Autism and commented:

    I have to tell you that my son, H, loved watching a somewhat irritating internet show called ‘Fred’ – which I think is rather much of a sensation with the early teen or pre-adolescent set. Well – a while back I asked him why he wasn’t watching it any more – and he said, “Fred is dead – he used the R word – so I am not watching that show anymore.”

    That was over 4 months ago… and he hasn’t gone back to it.

    Last night we went to a movie and I was working hard to remind H that he needed to be quiet in the theatre. This is always a bit of a challenge – as he is so full of questions – and really I do want to encourage that kind of thinking and questioning and social interaction.

    He usually does pretty well, but it still is difficult to differentiate that you can talk at home – but the expectations for the theatre are different.

    Anyways – last night in the theatre – there was someone who was really very loud at times – and vocalizing and laughing at unexpected times during the movie. It was clear that this person faced a number of challenges, and I was ready to step up in defense of their rights and was rehearsing what I might say if anyone complained.

    I was watching… ready to advocate…

    Like

  8. colinb897 says:

    I really like the phrasing and weighting of what you here say Leah.

    Like

    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you, Colin. I am working to notice the possibilities and opportunities where/when there is so much meaning conveyed in what we don’t state explicitly with words…

      It seems if we point out…”See look… I am accepting you” suddenly that isn’t acceptance… And I really hope that we are making moves with our parenting to promote internalized acceptance of self and others.

      Like

  9. aspielazuli says:

    Reblogged this on aspielazuli's Blog and commented:
    Yes! Diversity is what we are. And we all should succeed in living and understanding it. H does. I’m so happy-flappy again to read this. 😉

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s