Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why I use a capital "A" for Autism.

I've recently been asked why sometimes I capitalize the word autism, even if it's in the middle of a sentence. Here goes.

In college, I majored in Sign Language Studies. In the very beginning, we learned that there is a difference between being deaf, and being Deaf. Put simply, deaf (with a lowercase d) refers to an audiological impairment. It is generally understood that deaf individuals may utilize some services, but they still identify themselves with the hearing world.

Deaf (with a capital D), is a cultural distinction. It is a term applied, regardless of degree of hearing loss) to those who grew up in the Deaf Community, their primary language being ASL (American Sign Language). People who are Deaf, do not see deafness as a disability, so much as a way of life. By capitalizing the "D", they are letting others know that there is more to the world than just the inability to hear.

I like to think the same views apply to Autism.

Autism (with a capital "A") to me, says that I accept my child wholly. I celebrate his differences and his quirky-ness. I advocate diversity. I try to empower him. I am proud of his successes, no matter how small they seem. I hope he holds onto the compassion he has in his heart into adulthood. I do not think he needs "fixing". I am proud that he is my son, and sometimes I am humbled by that very same thought.

I never want Jaysen to feel "dis-abled", that he can't do something because of autism. I want him to know that he can do it, he just has to find the way that he can. And if he can't do it- he should at least try. I want my son to grow up being proud of his accomplishments, learning from his struggles, accepting of himself, and celebrating his differences.

There is more to life than just being neurotypical.


Casdok said...

I to accept my son wholly, so i will start using a capital A for Autism.
(Thank you i hadnt thought of that)

mommy~dearest said...

Because of my schooling and involvement with the Deaf Community, it just made perfect sense.

They are the strongest example of living life fully, and not being disabled by a disability.

To me...
autism is a diagnosis.
Autism is a way of life.

Ashley's Mom said...

I loved this post and referenced it on my blog. Hope you don't mind!


mommy~dearest said...

Mind? I'm truly flattered! I don't think anyone's linked to me before! :)

Jodi said...

Nice post!