How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Just Another Word

“Words! Find them, you can use them. Say them, you can feel them. Write them, you can read them. Love them, fear them.”-“Words” by the Real Group

You know something?  I’ve been told that words have lost some of the efficacy they once had.  How was that conclusion reached?  Well if I asked some people, they would probably say that texting and computer lingo have turned language into something unrecognizable.  Others would say that certain words are used so often that they lose their power.  I see the reasoning in both arguments, but I also remember that they are opinions, and like opinions, they are personal to the people who have them.

I believe that words are still powerful; it’s just that some people have forgotten that they are.  This is painfully evident when I hear stories of people enduring horrible treatment from spouses who didn’t even physically assault them.  As children grow, they will change internally whether they know it or not because kids will internalize what adults say to them, good, bad, or indifferent.  This is important for children on the Autism Spectrum.  The Aspie brain processes language differently, and words can take on entirely different meanings.  One thing I’ve learned is that just changing one word can change the entire meaning of a sentence.  That’s why the child on the Spectrum seems to respond to certain words and not respond to others.  This can lead to a misunderstanding for the adults who speak to them, especially if adults are uninformed.

I first learned of this in college.  Going through my different writing classes, a few of the best critiques I received were about how I could have more of an impact or connection to the subject by changing only a few words.  To my surprise, I found that just a small change could make my writing even better.  Keep in mind, this was in a school setting.  I had to be on my best behavior, because reacting in a negative way and blaming it on my Asperger’s would have gotten me a citation by campus police!  When I first started this blog, I had to learn how to translate that process to this setting; it was not easy.

When I finish a draft I always read it out loud to someone for proofreading.  It’s still difficult for me to take criticism and I need to be reminded that people rarely get something right the first time.  This goes back to the desperate need I used to have to do everything myself and not admit when I needed help.  I’m better with that today, but I still need reminding once in a while.  I also realized that one word in a spoken sentence can change the meaning of a person’s intention.

Have you ever been told something and then repeated it back in a slightly different way?  Has a serious problem or misunderstanding resulted because of a single word change?  Well, it’s happened to me on some occasions, and it wasn’t until I really thought out my words that I understood how important it was to be aware of what I was saying and how I was saying it.  This led me to adopt a core value from “The Four Agreements” written by Don Miguel Ruiz; that value was called “Being Impeccable With Your Word”.  It’s not so much a rule as a principle; the idea being that you choose your words carefully with integrity and awareness.  This can be difficult for people to try to do; can you imagine how it is for someone on the Spectrum?

Everyday speaking is something that took me a long time to learn.  While I may have been perceived by some people as acting antisocial or lacking intelligence, I simply didn’t know how to express myself in a “normal” way that those who were uninformed would understand.  It was through music and writing that I was able to express what was in my heart and mind and those who listened openly became the people who have seen me through thick and thin.  I’ve learned to discover my own power with spoken and written word and this blog is a testament to my discovery.

I won’t lie, it’s not easy to pay attention to the words I project because it requires focus and concentration.  It’s all too easy to forget the power that words still have and speak unconsciously.  I’m guilty of doing it, but I know that I do it and I make a conscious effort to be aware of what I say.  I do my best every day to be impeccable with my word and if I make a few mistakes along the way, at least I’ll learn something from them.  As long as I know how powerful words can be, I’ll use my voice and this blog to be a positive force for change.  Who knows?  Maybe a handful of words I’ve said before has saved someone’s life?  At the very least, I hope they have inspired people to look at life from another perspective and be enlightened in the process.


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