I’ve enjoyed looking through my archives to find pieces that might be a good fit over at The Mighty. When I received a contributor’s badge last month, I decided to create a link post in which to display the badge and to list each of the stories they have published.
My experience with the site has been quite positive. My posts were getting shared. I joined the contributors’ Facebook group and found it to be a supportive community. The comments on the site were kind, but I didn’t find that to be the case when one story was cross-posted at Yahoo! Parenting site. I realized “don’t read the comments” is good advice, and I decided to take it.
I was taken aback at first. Have I been yucky or offensive? I wondered. When I am honest with myself, I can admit I do not always presume competence when interacting with my son. I have to work on that each day. It helps to remember that I am not an expert on autism. I may know my son, but I need to rely on people who are actually autistic to help me learn more and to gain more understanding of how he may perceive and experience the world.
Sparrow is one of the experts to whom I can turn. She takes great care in writing about being autistic, sharing her own personal experience and addressing issues she and other autistics face. That’s why her words prompted me to view the site’s content with a more critical eye. That’s how I finally realized that The Mighty always uses person-first language (“with autism”) in their titles. This includes my submissions. I’m assuming that is a deliberate choice, one that would not be appreciated by all self-advocates. To learn more about this issue, I encourage you to read this essay on identity-first language that Sparrow wrote as part of her ABCs of Autism Acceptance series.
I don’t have to start lashing out, but I need to get past “the feels” of the stories at The Mighty to think about what each writer has to say and how they say it. I appreciate the welcoming attitude, but just because I feel welcome does not mean that others do. I need to keep that in mind. The site should be a place of empowerment and support.
For keeping me honest and for opening my eyes, I chose Sparrow’s words as my July Comment of the Month. They will live on at my Couldn’t have said it better page.
Please check out Unstrange Mind: Remapping My World for more great insights.