shutterstock_294234533 smallLast night I was re-reading some of the emails that have come in over the last week and one word really jumped out at me – QUIRKY. Not being used in the ‘brilliant’, ‘fabulous’, ‘amazing’ way but in the ‘odd’, ‘different’, ‘peculiar’ way.

Several of the fantastic parents who have joined our little forum group mentioned that their initial concerns about their daughters had been dismissed by teachers, health professionals and friends – there was nothing wrong, she was just ‘quirky’. Other irritating descriptors included ‘highly-strung’, ’emotional’, ‘immature’, ‘sensitive’ or ‘insecure’. Never have words been so hurtful and in hindsight so damaging. Damaging to the child as their particular needs are ignored but to the parents who love, adore and support their children in the long years of ‘pre-diagnosis’.

The same story keeps appearing – the mother (or father) knew there was something wrong, knew that their child was ‘different’ and yet they were not listened to, sent on parenting courses (that really makes my blood boil) or simply told to ‘stop worrying’. My mum recently reminded me about when we took out daughter to the GP when she was late smiling (her usual facial expression was stony-faced like that of a tough audience member at a comedy show). The GP looked at our wee bundle, did the usual tests and looked me in the eye and said ‘Don’t worry, it isn’t what you think it is’. Well, turns out that it probably is exactly what we thought it was and had the GP added this initial appointment with the many that followed about behaviour, aches and pains, emotional issues (hers and mine), perhaps we would have been saved some of the heartache, the years of feeling inadequate, useless parents etc etc.

I’m not saying that ‘quirky’ is bad, it has just been tarnished by people using it to refer to someone who isn’t ‘normal’, ‘neurotypical’ or whatever term you prefer! Quirky should be celebrated, unique is brilliant, free-thinkers, magical minds, beautiful imaginations and a view on the world that others can only dream of. It we could harness ‘quirky’ if we could make it a fabulous word that denotes brilliance and eccentricity and wonder, I think we could go some way to making this world more accepting, more tolerant and in turn incredible. So, let’s bring quirky back from the brink, embrace it and let our kids wear that badge with pride.

p.s. always trust a mother’s intuition!


7 thoughts on “Quirky

  • February 14, 2016 at 11:14 am

    It’s like reliving the past 3 years reading your blogs. The headteacher approached me when Izabelle was in reception class and said to me that she was a very quirky little girl. The SENCO when she was in nursery told me I was a paranoid mum and the consultant paediatrician also told me that all I was paranoid and that all I was bothered about was a diagnosis……and initially Izabelle was misdiagnosed as NOT having ASD. It wasn’t until I wrote a letter of complaint that the hospital trust realised Izabelle had not been discussed at the SCD panel. She did in fact meet the criteria for ASD. I find the term quirky a tad insulting when people use it to describe Izabelle.

  • February 14, 2016 at 11:44 am

    We have a sheet of paper from Emilia’s ‘leaving folder’ from P7….26 children were meant to write about her…every comment said ‘you’re quiet’ ‘you’re too quiet ..when will you speak’ …broke my heart…now at what point did that teacher think this was a ‘fun’ thing to put in her folder ?!

  • February 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    That is just appalling. No thought whatsoever about the child and their feelings.

  • February 20, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    i like being quirky, or rather observed as being so. Its just another part of the myriad things that make me who i am . I dont get insulted when people occasionally make comment on my curiosities. quite the reverse, as it sometimes highlights to me a chink in my armour that has allowed a neurotypical to spot that all is not quite what it seems. For the simple reason that as a kid, when a normal kid noticed my oddities it could occasionally lead to “bullying” for want of a better word. But for the most part i survived childhood, and my ability to disguise and hide among you in plan sight was so good that it took a very very astute health professional to spot something was not all it seemed, and a psychiatrist eventually diagnosed my aspergers. What i am really trying to say is, there is always a reason for a quirk or an oddity, they are not bad things, your ASD child will come out the other side of school, teenage years, sometimes with a bit tough love. As a parent its your job to help mould and shape yourself to adjust to the sometimes wacky world of ASD.

  • February 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Very kind words – thank you Aaron

  • January 9, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Before we knew our daughter Anna had suspected ASD, “quirky” was the word we used to describe her. I have always loved her quirkiness. And, just as importantly, Anna embraces it too. She regularly tells me that life would be boring if we were all the same and she she likes being a bit “crazy” (her word for fooling around and having fun, in her own unique way).

  • January 9, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Love that your daughter embraces her uniqueness – exactly as it should be! Thanks for commenting…

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