The disability world has its fair share of inspirational quotes. Some are actually inspiring, some are trite, and a few are downright dangerous. The quote below (popular among some mothers of nonverbal children) falls solidly into the dangerous category.
"A mother knows the words her child cannot say."
First, this is inaccurate. While I wish that I knew the words my children could not say, that's just impossible. Come over any day this week and watch my almost-two-year-old rage against my ignorance by tantrumming loudly on the floor when I hand him the not-the-one-he-was-thinking-of toy from the too-tall-to-reach shelf. He'll be happy to point out that parents are not always accurate mindreaders. And he's only two. If I can't even predict which toy he wants when he's pointing and whining, how could I possibly predict the complex (and sometimes random) thoughts of my 6 year old, who has very limited speech?
But more than inaccurate, there is a danger in quotes like this. This says "Mom, you've got this. Be secure in knowing that your connection to your child is stronger than language. You know what s/he can't say. Don't worry." But, well, that's clearly not true. I'm not a mindreader, and neither are you. And by sharing and promoting images like this one, we are (unintentionally, of course) spreading the idea that a) the child's thoughts are simple enough to be consistently accurately predicted and b) we shouldn't be (doggedly, enthusiastically, urgently) pursuing some sort of AAC that can provide them with a way to say exactly what they want to say, all of the time, to anyone.
So if this isn't an ideal image to share, what would be? I have a few ideas:
This is a bit more accurate:
Because it's not just about moms:
Because 80s rap enhances any meme:
In case you're not familiar with 80s rap:
This is certainly true for me:
And to include dads, too:
And here's one if you're a really big fan of details:
For the dads, too:
And guess what, SLPs? While researching this post, I also stumbled across this dangerous saying, targeted at you and yours:
Because the bottom line is this:
There. Much better.
Edited to add: The Facebook album of these memes also contains several others: for friends, teachers, therapists, SLPs, caregivers, ones that say "mum", and few others.
These will be up in an album on our Facebook page, and also have their own board on Pinterest.