This morning’s rambling spinning thought processing (involuntary) brain exercise is about words. Ironically, I have to use more words to express my despair of wordedness.
As an Autistic person, as well as a researcher and practitioner in the field, and inevitable advocate, certain words people use to refer to Autism affect me greatly.
Autistic. Not Person-with-Autism. Our neurology is not a handbag we carry with us, or a handy gadget to wield as and when our fancies strike. The vast majority of autistic persons now prefer to use identity-first language, and it is the choice of official Autistic advocacy, yet, the neuronormative world is steadfastly refusing to respect this. Why? Because they think they know better. Words are little missiles containing perception and attitudes. When a person insists on delivering words that hurt, even when repeatedly told to refrain or
Using Autism as a derogatory slur is becoming more and more rampant too, for example, “That’s so autistic!”. And lately, celebrities who have been caught for heinous deeds have been wielding the deficits-focused pathological descriptions of Autism to excuse their vile behaviours.
Meandering onwards from the above mental rumblings, onto more about Words. Words. Words everywhere.
Contemplating the overpowering dominant human modality of communication…
The head begins to pound. Literally.
Garbled babble. Noisome articulations stabbing and threading through the atmosphere. Visual lines and shapes on paper and screen. Innocuous. Insidious. Wielding power beyond confines of physicality. Abstractions with cogent authority to cut down, demean, humiliate, obfuscate, manipulate, or wings of gentle breath that uplift, build, comfort and strengthen.
“Just sayin’…” – too much used to cover over barbs of disparagement, hide behind veiled threats, or mask deep seated antagonism.
The worded world – speaking and / or text – relies on these little bits and bobs strung together, spun in intricate designs or spat forth splattering onto canvas primed, to craft significance.
“It’s not personal.” “Stop being so uptight.” “Why are you so sensitive?” “Lighten up!” The gas lighting and victim mocking is endless, and takes myriad forms.
Words have more power to wreak long-lasting devastation – constant tiny little stabs in the eye, dripping water in the ear, never ceasing ‘playful’ rubs on the skin, and repeated jesting shoves are not merely wearying but intensely traumatising acts of depredation.
Words can also create amazing strength, and encourage beauty – but these seldom come in the form of the “Just Sayin'” genre.
And we are all guilty in some way or other, at some time or other, of carelessly tossed words, of subtle hurt, and surreptitious attack. It takes huge effort to craft clement wordedness, and a carefully built structure can be annihilated in an instant, by just one cruel word. So… it is not true at all, what they say, that “sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never harm me.” Not true. In fact, quite the opposite.
Maybe… just perhaps… us humans would find better peaceful resonance and gentle healing if we could learn to dwell more within the alternative realm of sensory communication. Thinking through the body, ‘speaking’ with the senses, communion via shared vibrant matter. Will wordiness ever lose its power? I don’t think so, but I am convinced elemental empathy can bring restorative clemency to a distressed, weary and hurting humanity. If only we will ourselves to learn, listen, touch, taste, see and smell outside the ponderous realm of worded calisthenics.