Words matter. The words you say can truly effect someone without you even knowing. Sometimes in a positive way and often in a very negative one. A harmless YouTube video can turn someone from laughs to tears in moments when their diagnosis quickly becomes the joke.
Yesterday Mateo was searching through YouTube seeking out the latest Minecraft creations. We keep a close eye on this because many times there will be inappropriate language and images. Reuben was near by and Mateo was laughing and enjoying the kid’s video, and then Reuben heard the kids start to make fun of Autism. They were drawing goofy pictures and calling the images Autistic. Reuben told Mateo to hand him the iPad so he could see this video, but Mateo refused and turned it off. I wish I knew this video so I could leave a comment on it. So I could tell them what their cruel words and jokes did to my son.
Mateo started crying, he has a hard time with the word Autism, he has a difficult time accepting his diagnosis. His desire is to fit in and be like everyone else. It had been a long time since we had the discussion about Autism and what it means to be Autistic. So again we talked about it. We told him that Autism just means that his brain is wired differently. That Autism makes him process things differently, which makes him hear and see things differently than Mom and Dad do. But that all of us have different things about us that make us unique. We talked about those qualities.
But the tears continued to fall, in his heart he just wants to feel like everyone else. I felt helpless that I couldn’t paint Autism in a light that would make him feel proud. I don’t know if he will ever feel that way. I tell him how proud I am of him almost daily. But my words are not as strong as those of his peers and cruel jokes made on YouTube videos. No matter how many positive and caring words I say, nothing makes his pain of feeling so different go away.
I have seen Autism used negatively on Social Media, I don’t know why people feel the need to put others down as jokes. They are hurting our already struggling kids who already feel so different and like outcasts in this world. I honestly don’t think people realize the pain that they can cause, but I hoping to help spread some awareness to end this latest trend.