How do I deal with possibly unintentional prejudice?

(83 Posts)
NameChangeForUsualReasons Wed 25-Jun-14 21:52:50

Giving details as vaguely as possible to avoid identifying anyone. Basically I'm on a committee, one of the new members recently sent round a general email querying our procedure for dealing with something. I answered it as it was something I knew about. Then she came back with a related query, ending up with a paragraph in which she apologised for sticking with the point, and saying she had an "annoying autism about procedure". Aaaaaarrgh.

I had to count to 10 several times before replying, and didn't address that specific point because it would have diverted from the main issue and I needed time to think about it anyway. I'm assuming in her favour that she just wasn't thinking, but I'm quite shocked that the thought even enters her head that it's acceptable to use "autism" in that way and especially to describe it as annoying. Even more so as she's in an occupation which could loosely be described as one of the caring professions. If she came up with anything similar at meetings I doubt that I'd be able to keep quiet, and there are one or two members who would probably shout at her.

So I'm trying to think of a tactful way to suggest that that was unfortunate phrasing, no doubt she didn't realise, please don't do it again. But it's difficult to work out something that doesn't sound stroppy/patronising/bossy. Any thoughts?

Writerwannabe83 Wed 25-Jun-14 21:54:44

Annoying autism about procedure?

I don't even know what that means or what she's trying to say?

sonlypuppyfat Wed 25-Jun-14 21:56:38

Are you just looking for something to get annoyed about.

Canus Wed 25-Jun-14 21:57:16

As the sentence makes no sense, I'd assume it was a typo/auto-correct, I think.

sunbathe Wed 25-Jun-14 21:57:34

Perhaps she wanted anal? wink

NameChangeForUsualReasons Wed 25-Jun-14 21:57:47

sonly, of course not. Are you another one who can't see what's wrong with "annoying autism"?

Reply, "Sorry, not sure what you mean by "annoying autism". Can you clarify? Are you disclosing to me that you have autism?" 0:-)

I feel that what was said is qualitatively different to people - and this is frequent - saying "Oh, I'm so OCD about x/y/z!" But I'm not sure why. Need to unpack that. confused

dawndonnaagain Wed 25-Jun-14 21:58:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 25-Jun-14 21:58:47

But it doesn't make sense OP??

What has autism got to do with procedure?

I honestly have no clue what you or she are on about grin

TattyDevine Wed 25-Jun-14 21:58:59

Ah gawd. Its the kind of thing I'd give a raised eyebrow followed by a rolly eye in a meeting, but would leave go in an email unless constantly repeated, in which case I might say "what is your issue with Autism exactly and how is it relevant?"

Is it possible she is on the spectrum and apologising (not that she should?)

Very cringey, though.

Are you just looking for something to get annoyed about.

Yah, because equating autism with "annoyingness" is just soooo right on. hmm

CocktailQueen Wed 25-Jun-14 22:00:19

I can see why you don't like it, OP. Like saying you're 'a bit OCD' about something. Could you email her or talk to her and ask her not to do it again?

CocktailQueen Wed 25-Jun-14 22:01:17

X-post, Pumpkin!

NameChangeForUsualReasons Wed 25-Jun-14 22:01:45

Canus, sadly I think the sentence does make sense. She was trying to suggest that autism equates to being obsessive and nitpicky about details, and nothing more.

sonlypuppyfat Wed 25-Jun-14 22:01:53

Surely someone has written something down without thinking it through.

Deverethemuzzler Wed 25-Jun-14 22:02:28

It sounds as if she meant 'annoyingly autistic'.
Which is annoying and stupid.

Even though I think its annoying and stupid I would give her that one and wait if she does something else.

manicinsomniac Wed 25-Jun-14 22:03:32

It does kind of make sense. She's used the wrong forms of the words. She meant 'I'm annoyingly autistic about procedure' by which she presumably means that she likes things to be precise and in order. Rather a generalisation and quite offensive.

However, I think it's only more offensive than 'I'm so OCD about ...' 'I'm really depressed' 'Oh, I'm totally BPD' 'I'm a bit bipolar' etc because it's more unexpected. The latter have become part of day to day vocab and we don't see them as bad. People tend not to use 'autistic' as a general descriptor like that so it jars badly and seems very out of line.

Surely someone has written something down without thinking it through

Yes, I think you did so above. smile

No reason not to raise the issue with the email sender in a pleasant way.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 25-Jun-14 22:04:22

But wouldn't she say she had an annoying autistic trait? (If she is prejudiced about it.)

Because her sentence doesn't make sense are you sure it's not just a typo?

I'm sat here trying to figure out what word she may have meant to use grin

bumpiesonamission Wed 25-Jun-14 22:05:23

Is it lol me when someone says 'that's so gay' or 'stop being so 'special'?!"

bumpiesonamission Wed 25-Jun-14 22:05:39

'like' not lol

sonlypuppyfat Wed 25-Jun-14 22:08:41

I rarely think things through sorry blush

NameChangeForUsualReasons Wed 25-Jun-14 22:09:40

I don't really see why people think the sentence doesn't make sense. It's a slightly odd way to phrase it, but in essence she's just saying "I have autism" rather than "I am autistic". It was all in the context of a paragraph in which she was in effect apologising for banging on about the procedural issue, and I'm sure that "autism" is the word she intended to use.

BigfootFiles Wed 25-Jun-14 22:10:01

Personally, I would reply with:

"Did autocorrect strike there? Autism is a lifelong developmental disability and if you are disclosing an autistic condition then please let me know. If not, I'll assume you mistyped."

Loletta Wed 25-Jun-14 22:10:16

I think you're right to be shock
It's even worse than saying "I'm annoyingly OCD about...." Because autism is arguably worse than OCD and those who have it are more vulnerable.
I think someone in a position of trust shouldn't tala like this.
You haven't explained how you relate to this person professionally so I can't comment on whether it would be appropriate to remark but I agree it's really bad

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