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Category: Autism

The Great Autism Debate

I understand now.

Many adults with autism want to be called “Autistic.” That’s how they self-identify. For them, they are an Autistic individual. Others feel it’s important to use “person-first language” (i.e. “a person with autism”).

The debate has been going back and forth is the ASD community. I could never understand why the convictions on both sides were so strong.

Now I understand.

Read More: My Son was Murdered by his Mother

London, my son, was Autistic. The autism was severe and pronounced. His symptoms were unmistakable. But you got past that. You gave him grace. You didn’t focus on his limitations. He was a happy, loving boy. Besides being beautiful to behold—blue eyes and blonde hair—he was beautiful on the inside.

He laughed and jumped and played. He loved other children, even if he didn’t know how to play with them.

He didn’t like what he didn’t like. He made that quite clear. But he made it clear what he did like. He took to those things with great gusto. When he was eating food that he liked, he cooed. The air was full of “mmmm”s and “yumms”s. He couldn’t talk, but he was always making sound. His “almost-words” were nicknamed his “Ewok Language.”

He adored physical contact with those he loved. He liked to be held and tossed, and he always slept pressed up against me at night.

The story of his life is love personified. London personified love.

You and I can honor his memory best by loving each other. Love your children. Love your parent. Love your friends. Love those you meet.

Love with great gusto.

I’m going to cut through all that naming debate. Just call an individual by his or her name. London was London.

Don’t just take it from me. His friends were typical children. When they played, sometimes the other children would wonder why he was different. His friend, Sienna, was the same age as he. She said, “This is my friend London. He can’t speak. He’s not a baby or anything, he just can’t speak.” His friend, John, said, “This is my friend London. Sometimes he just needs a little space.” The children around him didn’t label him. They didn’t know how to. He was just “their friend, London.”

People with disabilities are just people. I have a disability. Without warning, a brain tumor sent me to the hospital. I sill have trouble walking, but I’m trying the best I can. I deserve a chance to try. London deserved a chance to try. That chance was taken away from him.

His passing has shocked the world. It shocked me.

Every person deserves a chance to live.

When old friends greet me who knew London, they have trouble finding the words to say. That is understandable. This act defies explanation. I have trouble finding the words to say. There are no words to explain that which doesn’t make sense.

Being a parent is hard. That is no excuse for murder.

London was loving and trusting. That trust was betrayed.

London had two sets of grandparents that would have loved to raise him. I would have loved to raise him. I was very much looking forward to knowing London as an adult.

There is no excuse for taking a life.

None.

In conclusion, greet those with disabilities with love, warmth, and a first name. He or she deserves the respect you would give any friend.

Go in peace. Love one another.