Thursday, February 19, 2015

Autism Answer: Ugly Words and Beautiful Intentions

I am aware of my words and choose them thoughtfully. There are sometimes meanings I don't intend, or prejudices I might not know I'm instigating, living within the words I use. Over the years I've adjusted and revamped and renovated my language. And I plan to continue.

But also, I try to be non-judgmental about the words others use. I share what I believe about words, but always assume the best. There are probable kindnesses and possible struggles and mystery intentions I am unaware of coming from the speaker. 
For a person who is newly communicating, a lecture on the words they choose is the last thing they might need. For a person who struggles to grasp sophisticated ideas, there is a beautiful and simple message I may lose out on if I focus too intensely on specific words. For a person who grew up surrounded by bigotry, there may be verbal habits distracting me from recognizing a lovely person breaking from an ugly culture.
I know many people with the most beautiful intentions and supreme challenges who would easily be frightened out of trying to voice their thoughts had I lectured them on word choice.

These are the same people who have taught me the most, and made my life infinitely better.

I will always share my opinions and insights on what I believe words can do. I don't shy away from sharing my insights when I hear someone turn an ugly phrase or produce a demeaning sentence. But my loved ones have taught me to do so with kindness and without assumption.

We are all living here in this world together, and not one of us has it all figured out. So let's be engaged, interested, and intentional. Let's describe it in words we choose thoughtfully, and together we can live a life of discovery and growth.

Which, I suspect, is what we'd do if we had it all figured out.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!