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New experiences bring new vocabulary.

Have you ever tried to read the bridge section of the daily newspaper.  It’s in the section with the puzzles and comics.  Even when I try hard, I can’t envision what is happening.  The author uses words that I have heard before, but not in the same context that I understand, so I am lost.  These experiences actually have engendered the belief that I wouldn’t ever be able to understand how to play bridge.

The same thing can happen with any new experience.  Look at changing medical terms for instance.  When someone returns from a doctor appointment and I ask, “What did the doctor say?” Often, I haven’t heard of that particular diagnosis and have to ask questions before I gain understanding concerning what the doctors believe is happening.

You might have noticed that when young children are learning to talk, they call every four-legged animal they see, “cat” or every woman, “mama.” That continues until the child understands the exact meaning of the words they are experimenting with using.  We all think that is cute.  So why is it not “cute” when an adult is learning new vocabulary with their new experience?

Another difficult situation for many is when common descriptive words change – after you learned them.  Humans often shame others because of their lack of current knowledge.  For example, over the last 40 years in my experience, the descriptive words have morphed.  Speech therapists became CDS’s (Communication Disorder Specialists) then SLP’s (Speech-Language Pathologists). Nick’s fits became grand mal seizures and now they are called generalized tonic-clonic seizures.  And don’t even get me started about descriptive labels changing from retarded to intellectual disability, and disabled to differently-abled, then to special needs and now we are to say “a person with special needs.”  I have been reprimanded and told that I need to use different language rather than, “use labels that stereotype and devalue.”

I am stunned by the scolding.  Anyone who truly knows Arden and me understands that we have never stereotyped or devalued our child or any other person who has similar life experiences.  My son Nicholas’ needs are his needs and his abilities are his abilities.  Some days I am doing the best I can meeting his care needs.  I might not remember the current correct label.

These labels are changing so fast and the vocabulary is different in different groups of people.  If you find yourself wanting to correct someone’s speech, please stop!  It is not helpful to chastise parents and caregivers because we don’t use the correct terminology.  We are in the trenches, slogging through the mud, looking for the joyful moments, not sitting around a conference table discussing what is politically correct within the wordsmithing world.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am filled with gratitude for the increased love and compassion that I feel from society as a whole and particularly from strangers who approach us in public settings commending us on our love and care for Nick.  It completely warms our hearts.  I am just asking for all of us to treat each other with more understanding and compassion.

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  1. Preach it sister. This is a great reminder that we need to do less judging and more loving and seeking to understand.

  2. Great article, I agree Eva. Less judgement and more understanding & compassion is definitely needed during these current times!

    Wishing you & your family many more “joyful moments” ahead!!

  3. We are in the trenches, slogging through the mud, looking for the joyful moments, not sitting around a conference table discussing what is politically correct within the wordsmithing world.

    This is so true and important. So glad you pointed it out. We need to stop shaming others period.
    Thank you for your words.

  4. You are absolutely right on. Sometimes I hesitate to talk about people with special needs because I’m afraid I won’t use the acceptable terms. The same goes for some terms used with the LGBTQ community. Thanks for making me feel I’m not alone in my frustrations. Btw my daughter is 43 and has Down Syndrome.

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Announcing that I have finished a book with the working title of “The Fairy Fort.” I am currently pitching it to publishers. Keep checking back to watch the progress of my newest novel.

Here is a quick glimpse of the story.

Sarah Doherty is an 18-year-old living in rural Ireland at the tail end of the Great War. Plagued by severe epilepsy, she is protected by her parents and lives a sheltered, secluded, lonely life. The Fae, local Irish fairies, interfere with her life. She falls forward a century in time through the local fairy fort of standing stones. She had a seizure in 1918 and woke up in 2020. The 21st century world includes life-saving prescriptions, physical comforts and the independence and freedom she seeks. The locals are welcoming and Andy Mclaughlin, a handsome young historian, is intriguing. She doesn’t want to return home.

Then a letter arrives from Boston divulging the story of Sarah and Andy’s lives that are deeply entwined in the previous century. They are not yet in love but as they seek to verify the letter through online resources, they feel a growing obligation to their unborn family and to each other. What would happen to their posterity living in Boston if they don’t return to 1918? Even if they do make it back, her parents can never know what happened to her or that would change everything.

This Young Adult time-travel romance explores the question: Do we have the freedom to make choices or is free will an elaborate illusion?

This is my third book. I love reading time travel romances. I am an advocate for epilepsy awareness because my 43-year-old son has intractable epilepsy. As a genealogist specializing in Irish research, I live part of the year in the village where the story is based. I wrote the book to help young adults understand that difficult situations can change your life. Sometimes miraculously.