Tag Archives: opinion

labels

I’ve decided to just go ahead and be opinionated today.

I like labels.  I like them a lot.  Now, I’m probably biased since I really like words in general – words are such amazing fantastic things, with meanings and layers of meaning and nuance and connotations and all sorts of things.  Words are cool.  There are all sorts of types of words, and most of those types are fabulous, including labels.

I have found that there are many people out there who dislike labels.  The usual reasons given are that labels pigeonhole people, or put people in boxes, or define people and therefor limit them.  Personally, I very strongly disagree with all of that.  Ok, I agree that those are bad things to do, but I disagree that labels do that.  People do that and use labels as an excuse, but in my experience people don’t really need labels to do it.  There are all sorts of excuses; labels are just one of many.

Personally, I find labels incredibly useful.  Using a label to define a person is a stupid way to use it.  Using a label to describe a person, on the other hand, is very useful indeed.  It’s helpful to me personally to have labels for myself – like, for instance, Asperger’s.  My life has gotten so incredibly much better since I got that label!  It has helped me to understand myself better – to give myself a context that helps to explain my oddities.  It doesn’t define me or pigeonhole me or limit me.  Instead, it describes me.

Interestingly, as much as some people claim to be against labels, they only seem to be against some labels.  For instance, I have yet to have anyone complain to me about labels when I describe myself as a crafter.  Or as a cat person.  Or as a woman.  Or as a rider.  Or as any number of words I use to describe myself.  I have never managed to figure out what it is that is suppose to make some labels bad, and other labels not bad.  So instead I just don’t worry about it – labels are good.  Sometimes people use them in bad ways.  That is not the fault of the label, it is the fault of the person who used it.

In other news, TACA has yet to get back to me, nor have they corrected their erroneous “fact.”  Given that it’s been almost a week, I do not consider this a good sign.

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Strange Life Lessons

A while back (on the scale of 1-3 years ago, I think) I realized something that had been holding me back.  Something important dawned on me, but it has not been an easy lesson to swallow.  That lesson being: language shapes reality.

Even typing it is hard.  My brain keeps thinking that it shouldn’t be true.  Language, as spiffy and awesome and cool as it is, shouldn’t really do much more than describe reality.  Or fantasy, if that’s your thing.  In any case, language is a tool for communication – an awesome tool that I like lots – and it’s true that it’s possible to influence people by what you say, but that’s not the same thing as language shaping reality directly.  But apparently, it does.

So far I only have this lesson in a very basic way, and I couldn’t say if it goes further or not.  So, sometimes I observe people doing something new or challenging.  Someone will say “I want you to try this,” or something along those lines.  Their response tends to be “Ok!  Yes!  I can do that!” said with what strikes me as an unreasonable amount of enthusiasm.  It always seemed like just a bunch of noise.  Dishonest noise, at that.  I mean, how do you know if you can accomplish something until you try it?  What if you’re all “I can do it!” and then you can’t?  Didn’t you just make yourself out to be a liar?  I mean, sure you can probably do it eventually, but that’s different.  So in that situation, if someone was giving me a challenge, I would simply respond honestly.  “Well, I’ll try.”  “I don’t know if I can do that, but I suppose I’ll give it a shot.”

In retrospect, I am honestly not sure how I figured it out.  In any case, turns out I was sabotaging myself right from the beginning.  If, from the start, I verbalize with confidence, somehow it becomes more likely that I will succeed.  This totally breaks my poor little brain, but from everything I can tell, it’s true.  See, I know that acting confident is important in many things.  Rock climbing and horseback riding, for instance, both require that a person act with confidence.  Doing something tentatively does not ever work.  I had figured out that I could act confident even if I didn’t feel confident.  Now it seems that it’s easier to act confident if I sound confident.  The language I use and the manner in which I use it shapes the reality that happens next.

I wonder how much this is (or isn’t) true for other things.

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quiet hands

So there’s this blog post I read about quiet hands and abuse.  It’s a really good read and I think it makes really good points.  I am also finding myself all sorts of conflicted about the whole concept.

I mean, in general I totally agree with the point of the post.  And what the author went through as a child is absolutely awful, and I cannot even imagine why anyone would do things like that.  This idea people seem to have that stimming is wrong is very upsetting to me, and I wish people wouldn’t be so afraid of a little repetitive movement.  I feel very sad that the author of that post went through what she did, and I wish the world weren’t like that.

On the other hand, well, I do horseback riding.  I am in a theraputic riding program, and I am pretty sure that I am not the only person there on the autism spectrum.  Sometimes, when there, I hear my teacher say to a student, “quiet hands” or “quiet feet.”  If I were to only go by that blog, that would be a horrible thing for her to say.  Now, I don’t know about what the context is beyond horseback riding.  I don’t know if the people in their life are trying to make it so that they don’t stim, or if this is isolated to riding.  I do, however, know about the riding context.  And in riding, quiet hands and quiet feet are actually really freaking important.

Why is that?  Well, as the blog said, because behavior is communication.  In this case, communication with the horse.  When I ride, I only sometimes talk to the horse with my voice.  Mostly I talk with my hands and my feet and my knees and my thighs and my hips and my torso and my head and… everything, really.  I would never have gotten as far as I have in riding if I weren’t able to have quiet hands and quiet feet.  So if an autistic person gets on a horse, and honestly really enjoys riding, is it still wrong to say “quiet hands”?  Personally, I don’t think so.

I think it’s a context thing.  In most contexts, no one is hurt by someone flapping or exploring the texture of a wall or whatever.  In most contexts, if someone is made uncomfortable by that, that is their problem and no one else’s.  But in some contexts, it matters in a really direct way.  I guess I just think that there has to be some way to find middle ground.

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