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The Profound Impact of Language

Jul 22, 2020
Language has a profound impact on how we view and understand concepts around human behaviour.
An important example consistently in my periphery is the good ole' 'behaviour' song.
Good behaviour, bad behaviour, functional behaviour, adaptive behaviour, on it goes.
There is a significant difference between 'inappropriate behaviour' and neurobiological needs. When we view behaviour through the lens of neurodiversity, we come to understand that any particular behaviour in one person can, in fact, mean something completely different in another person.
This is not commonly accepted, and this is reflected in the very fact that we have communities of human beings with the label of 'disorder' attached to them, where their behaviour has been observed by people who have translated it with bias through the lense of their own experience.
Autistic people vs non autistic people for example.
Often I'll make a cake and where there are egg shells left out, one of my girls will make a beeline for them and crush them gleefully in her hands. I know and understand this; and it's purpose and function. She is seeking sensory input that is satisfying, calming and soothing. It touches on parts of her brain that would not light up under the same circumstances in a non autistic brain.
Rather than seeing this behaviour as inappropriate or dysfunctional, we understand it as important and completely functional. We decide, based on what works in our family home and environment whether this is manageable.
When we consider manageability, we consider our family unit.
Is this harmful to anyone? Is any person at risk?
Outside of the home, to avoid our child being targeted due to stigma, is there something we can offer in its place to achieve the same effect on her central nervous system and sensory systems?
We must, however, be very careful about our considerations around this. Inside of the neurodiversity paradigm is the letting go of "socially acceptable". Where we continue to cling on to what "looks okay", we fail in our drive for autism understanding and acceptance.
It is imperative to demonstrate examples of difference and evidence that being autistic in our authentic expression is not threatening. And we challenge ourselves as parents and carers. Is this really poor behaviour, unacceptable behaviour, socially inappropriate behaviour? Or, is our child meeting an autistic neurobiological need?
One provides an opportunity for acceptance, the other often stems from the projection of our own fears of rejection and jumping ahead ten years into the future.
If we bring ourselves back to the now, how important is this?
Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways
Image: Elly Fairytale

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