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'You autistic bastard'

(78 Posts)
jussi Sat 01-Mar-14 10:11:13

So this is what the ex husband of a new friend said to a pet cat while I was at the friend's house.
To put in context, have recently made friends with a family who also home school. My children have made good friends with their children and the parents are lovely, have really clicked with them.
Yesterday, while visiting, the ex husband dropped off his daughter and was there for literally 2 minutes but within these 2 minutes jostled with the cat and said the above phrase to it. He doesn't know me nor that my son has autism. Tbh, I felt sick and was trying hard to comprehend what I'd just heard. I zoned out a bit and felt frozen to the spot. By the time I had 'come round' he was on his way out.
Nothing was mentioned but when I got home I felt pretty upset. Now, if someone had told me this had happened to them, I would have said, I hope you told him what for. I was too shocked to say anything in the time he was there.
I've tried to let it go but I can't and feel I need to say something to the mum (she was in the room but didnt say anything). Don't know if she felt embarrassed or not. I know it was not her that said it and I don't want her to feel in any way to blame or feel bad and have therefore thought maybe to leave it and put it down to ignorance but then on the other hand, I really don't think it is okay and she blatantly heard it and I feel I should mention something to her in the hope she may mention it to her ex husband. Even if just to make him think for a second. Pretty obvious why he is an ex!!!

PolterGoose Sat 01-Mar-14 11:07:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MyCatIsFat Sat 01-Mar-14 12:12:49

There's a book called All Cats are Autistic.

What's upsetting you the word autustic or bastard?

My cats can actually behave in a way that could be described as autistic at times. Let's not start making the word autistic taboo or one that can only be used withthose who have 'ownership' / 'qaulifications' to use it.

PolterGoose Sat 01-Mar-14 12:31:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 12:45:26

MyCatIsFat the fact that a medical condition is used as an insult is what it's offensive. The weird Autistic isn't taboo, but it very specifically means 'of autism'. Cats are not autistic, ever. They may be annoying at times. They may demand routine. They may be aloof at times. They aren't Autistic and to suggest so inevitably leads to a trivializing of a life changing, life long condition, whilst at the same time implying that to be autistic is a negative thing in general.

Jussi, I wouldn't say anything to her because you don't know her that well (I think?) and you don't know what their relationship was like. Calling a cat autistic might be the tip of the iceberg.

My sister phoned last night and was talking about someone (concerned) and Saud 'you know, she's a bit special and...' I cut her off and said 'don't use that term please, it's very hurtful.' She was utterly confused and said ' know what I mean, she's a bit special isn't she? You know, she's got learning difficulties or whatever...' I simply said 'DD1 is a bit 'special' DSis and in fact if we're honest, DD2 is a bit 'special' too. she said 'Oh I wasn't talking about her...' and I said 'no one ever is. That's the trouble. it's just something they say without thinking about who they're talking about.'

I just don't think you'll change his behavior by confronting her and it may even damage your new friendship.

jussi Sat 01-Mar-14 13:13:06

Yeah, you are right, I will put it down to ignorance. Mycatisfat- I was offended as it was used in a derogatory manner, in a similar way 'you gay bastard' or 'you black bastard' would be used. If you don't take offernse at that, fair enough but I do and I did. 'Autistic' being used as an adjective of bastard is not a compliment.

ouryve Sat 01-Mar-14 13:49:28

He's clearly not an ex for no good reason.

VanDerGaagTransporten Sat 01-Mar-14 14:05:10

And that's where we disagree because I don't see it as a 'medical' condition. It is a benign condition. Implying that's it's a medical condition implies it needs treatment and there would be a lot of Aspies who would vehemently disagree with the assertion that they needed to be 'treated' for their autism. We use the term 'autistic' as a joke in this house, a joke initiated by someone who themselves has ASD and can have a good laugh at some of his own behaviour (and ours). We wouldn't dream of using it outside our home because of all the tut-tutting that would inevitably ensue from the POs- but I guess we are lucky that DS is so self-aware.

I think all this 'special' stuff is pretty puke-worthy TBH and getting upset about terminology is being a little bit precious. Every descriptor of 'special needs' in history now appears to be unacceptable. When is 'a bit special' going to join that long list of No Nos. By taking offence at every lay person's slip-up in terminology we are alienating people and making them less likely to consider engaging with us and our 'special' children for fear of 'getting it wrong again'. I wish to goodness some of us would lighten up a bit. And as I'm typing this I can just imagine the cries of 'So you think it's OK to call DS a xxxxx'. No I don't. But there's no point in saying that as everybody will read into this post what they will, pile in as usual and I'll be misquoted anyway.

But I don't want people that I know picked up for the really trivial 'insult' (in your book - not mine) of referring to my DS as 'a bit special'. I don't want to encourage that and can't condone all this censoring.

I get far, far more upset when DS is called a 'ginger bastard;.

PolterGoose Sat 01-Mar-14 14:19:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VanDerGaagTransporten Sat 01-Mar-14 14:23:26

Polter. You know that asking a poster about names is contrary to MN Talk Guidelines.

Language matters to me too.

PolterGoose Sat 01-Mar-14 14:41:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 14:55:31

VanDer/MyCat 'special' is on my PO list, if you want to be so insulting to call it that. 'has special needs' is not. it's all about the intent of the word. I'm not talking about the intent of the speaker - who may be ignorant and careless enough that they haven't given a first thought, let alone a second thought, to the meaning or origin of the word. I'm talking about the intent of the word. I have never come across the following words said about someone in admiration:



'special' (said with an emphasis)




I'll stop the list there.

VanDerGaagTransporten Sat 01-Mar-14 14:59:20

It would have been useful to keep your observations off-board as now I shall have to ask for a thread deletion and change my name (yet again).

I change frequently and will not be revisiting every thread I've ever posted on to ensure continuity of name, especially when it's a) apparent to you that it is a continuation and b) you don't really think I go in for 'sock-puppetting do you?'

<rolls eyes in utter exasperation at what the SN forums are turning into>

<notes to self - do not revisit any threads after a NC>

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 15:00:31

Oh and there is nothing in the talk guidelines about asking people about their talk names, at all. There is only a 'no troll hunting'rule.

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 15:02:32

How utterly bizarre that someone who values their privacy would name change part way through a thread then blame a poster for noticing!! It's your fault, not poltergoose's

VanDerGaagTransporten Sat 01-Mar-14 15:08:29

Well all I can say is you guys are very easily offened if you think 'special' is a form of insult/abuse.

This is what I really hate about the whole SN community. They decide a word is no longer acceptable and expect the whole non-SN world to comply.

Claimimg ownership of words and the deciding of the context in which they can be used by a vested group is very wrong.

PolterGoose Sat 01-Mar-14 15:08:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ouryve Sat 01-Mar-14 15:09:08

I disagree, Van

And I hate "a bit special*. I can not think of any sense where its colloquial meaning is anything but derogatory.

Our language is rich enough without needing to use these terms as insults.

VanDerGaagTransporten Sat 01-Mar-14 15:10:41

Looks like my prediction was right when I said you'd all pile in.

This is my last post on this thread as I now need to NC (thanks all) and will be accussed of grievious crimes if I then carry on.

So, feel free with your sarcasm - fully expected.

ouryve Sat 01-Mar-14 15:12:44

Don't think you'll be missed. hmm

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 15:13:00

Have a good day.

VanDerGaagTransporten Sat 01-Mar-14 15:14:59

Befire I NC

Can't you see Ouryvre - it wasn't an insult. Why on earth would someone talking about their own neice want to insult her. That''s the whole point. You guys are seeing insults where none are intended. You guys have decided it's an insult and that you'll police the language from now on. It's not your decision to make. Juts because you don't like the word 'special' other people may find it acceptable and descriptive of their children. What gives you the right to police it or are you just following the herd?

I expect Polter's sister felt pretty bad when she was told that. That's not how I want to treat members of my family who are interested enough to discuss my children with me.

ouryve Sat 01-Mar-14 15:20:49

You think nothing of lumping a group of people with one thing in common all together as a single hive mind, though, Van. That's not a good way to treat people, either, as it's rather dismissive of the fact that people have their own thoughts and ideas which they have every right to express as individuals without being told they are "piling in".

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 15:29:51

"Why on earth would someone talking about their own neice want to insult her."

She didn't intend to insult my niece. But she was quite happy to insult the individual she was referring to. She didn't see the connection. It didn't occur to her that people would be describing my DD as 'a bit special', or even what 'a bit special' meant because she is of a culture where words are cheap and you just pick up what other people are saying. She's also quite happy to use some of the words I listed casually, and other words I would not type. It just the people she spends her time with - it's normal for them.

I don't just care about my DD. I care about all the children at her school, who will become those adults who are referred to as 'a bit special' or even 'speshul'. I care because if I don't, nothing will change.

We don't call people niggers anymore. Strangely, it was once completely mainstream. Similarly, we don't call people 'mongs' anymore. That, too was mainstream. Along with cripple, spastic, and lots of other words which were seen as acceptable and are now not.

At the time of change, I'm sure those that caused that change were seen as 'PO' or 'Uptight'. If that's what it takes for my DD to be described as the funny, kind, warm, humerous, engaging and downright magical person she is, instead of the thing that made her face difficulties in every day life, I'll wear the badge with pride.

lougle Sat 01-Mar-14 15:54:46

"I expect Polter's sister felt pretty bad when she was told that. That's not how I want to treat members of my family who are interested enough to discuss my children with me."

I know she did feel bad, after trying to brush it off twice. But if she felt bad it was because she hadn't stopped to consider what she was saying. It was just words. I have no problem with someone feeling bad because they've done something that has hurt someone and been made aware. I've done it myself, in a different context, and although it's cringeworthy and embarrassing, it allowed me to modify my behaviour in the future.

I'm sure she'd much rather I told her than avoiding her because I can't stand the way she speaks of children like mine?

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