Don’t Call My Son Cute

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9 Responses

  1. Joanna says:

    While in NYC this past weekend with my two older girls (ages 18 & 21) I had the unforgettable experience of getting to shop at ForeverXXI in Times Square. Four stories of pure hell with thumping, pumping beats that made me think I might possibly suffer real hearing loss before I managed to escape, wait, I meant check out… but I digress. My point is, as they rushed from rack to rack and floor to floor, they decided that Tess needed some age appropriate, hip, almost teen, clothing. You know, like they wear. So, with me having the power to veto anything that was a little to, well, ForeverXXI, I let them pick out several outfits. When I came home and showed them to Tess and told her that they were chosen by Blake and Ellie at the “cool” store where they get most of their clothes, her eyes lit up and she tried grabbing on to the overpriced jean jacket like she had just found mecca. So yeah, I’m learning that what I want Tess to wear, and what Tess wants Tess to wear, may not be the same thing. She seems to think she should be wearing age appropriate, cool, clothes while I think ruffly dresses with tights are “totes adorbs”. But, as Blake informed me when I told her I was “on point” with Tess’s clothes, the fact that I was still saying “on point” instead of “on fleek” was proof enough that I was wrong. Sigh.

    • Heather says:

      Huge points for this one Joanna and what great sisters!! I’m sure this was a stretch. I don’t have girls and clothing I’m sure is a big issue. I just fall back on what anyone would let their near-typical kids do, which isn’t everything. You’re definitely the cool mom for sticking it out in the store!!

  2. YES to all of this. This is so on point and so important for people, especially professionals, to remember. I think it’s really all about respecting the individual and so often people seem to forget to do this when the individual looks or behaves outside of what is considered to be “typical.” It’s not exactly the same, but it does remind me of when a professional said to me, “I just love kids with spina bifida! There are all so determined!” I felt like she wasn’t really seeing my son as an individual at that point. Kind of like how I might say “I love German Shepherd’s! German shepherds have such lovely dispositions!” It’s frustrating to feel like your child isn’t really being seen as the person that they are. Thank you for writing this.

    Also, I want Aidans Snapchat handle…

    • Heather says:

      Yes – it really does come to seeing kids as individuals. And aren’t kids with DS supposed to be stubborn and kids with CP I don’t know but it shouldn’t be a list.

      (also-Sim still gets to be cute for many more years)

      • Ettina says:

        The thing is that some disabilities do come with certain personality traits. Having worked with several people with Down Syndrome, I can tell you that most of them did have a stubborn streak! And as an autistic person I can see that many of my personality traits are shared by others on the autism spectrum. But the thing people forget is that we’re all individuals – even two people with the same disability are going to be very distinct from each other.

  3. Christine Haskins says:

    Totes adorbs this! Thanks for calling out what seems obvious but obviously isn’t!

    Just for clarification, there may be some teenage boys out there that may also think that Aidan is “sooooo cute!” Just sayin’. 🙂

    And if I had his Snapchat handle, I’d have no idea what to do with it…

  4. Heather, ABSOLUTELY to all of this! You hit the nail on the head, as usual. I cringe when I hear people talk like this about teens and adults with disabilities as “cute” or “adorable” because it means they are equating them to little kids, who we think of as “less than”. When we put the barrier between ourselves and our peers with disabilities, by identifying them as “cute” [read: “less than”], we are removing the potential for a powerful friendship through which we could really learn a lot. I absolutely love this post– thank you for writing it and reminding us of the negative effects of “othering.”

  5. Ettina says:

    I’m autistic and most of the time, people can’t tell unless I tell them, and continue to forget even after they’ve been told. But a few occasions, I’ve been surprised by the realization that someone thought I was cute (in the little kid sense). Once, I was waiting in the car while my parents got stuff, and I was having a great time stimming and not thinking about how I looked. A guy walked past and without thinking I playfully gestured a stimmy greeting at him. He smiled, and I realized immediately that he was thinking I was cute, and a whole host of stereotypes along with that. It completely ruined the mood.

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