Thursday, February 14, 2008

Words Matter - When you take away hope

“Plateau” I hate this word. I just heard it again in describing how Nicky was doing in one of his programs.

When I hear this word I feel like I've just been punched in the stomach and then I get furious and then I cry.

This time when I calmed down I asked myself “why does that word take me to such a bad place?” I’m sure the word “plateau” has a clinical meaning and when professionals use it they are just stating facts as they see them. Nonetheless I think there are some words that professionals should only use when talking with each other and not when talking to parents and plateau is one of them.

Because when I hear "plateau" I hear, there is NO HOPE he's not going to learn any more. All I hear is someone telling me that my child has reached his potential. Hell I'm an adult and I haven't reached my potential! I hear he’s not capable of doing any better. I hear he is not going to improve any further. And hardest of all I hear, any hope I have for him developing further needs to stop here, because he’s reached is full ability. I hear that my HOPE for his future - which is what keeps me going – is a fantasy and I need to accept that he's not going to do any better.

I logically know this word is used in a clinical way and not meant to hurt me. But it does hurt me and it scares me and it makes me furious. Nicky is a 9 year old, and we don’t know enough about autism and no one, not even me gets to say what he’s capable of and no one get’s to say my 9 year old has reached a plateau. No one gets to take away our hope. No one get’s to put him in a box. No one gets to say “that’s it”. Maybe that’s not what people mean to convey, but it’s what I hear.

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