Parental poop talk is perhaps the most affectively loaded of all poop talk, in large part because it relates smearing, eating, and rectal digging in graphically humanizing terms. Someone has to clean it up. Someone has to act, to intervene.

The humanization in autism poop talk, of course, is rarely about the human whose poop has been thrust into the spotlight.

And, especially in the case of parent blogs and other digitally born life writing, poop talk is often divulged without the full and informed consent of the autistic person being depicted.

This isn’t to deny the dangers or stresses associated with a loved one’s ingestion of harmful bacteria, or the distress involved in attending to the spread of literal shit, or the community and support a parent might garner from sharing intimate stories online.

My point, rather, is that these narratives are shittier than the shit they claim to represent. These are shitty narratives – rhetorical commonplaces that author autistic people as victim-captives of a faulty neurology, as rhetorically degraded and rhetorically suspect.

In these constructions, our shit holds more rhetorical power than we do.

Melanie Yergeau


The idea behind “behavior is communication” is a powerful one

It is the idea that disabled people – even severely disabled people without the ability to reliably communicate through language – have perspectives, thoughts, and desires all their own and have the right to have those around them understand and respect it.

The sentiment is that a person never does anything for “no reason” […] The sentiment is also that there is almost no case where someone has “no way” of communicating distress, discomfort, etc

I want to be perfectly clear: I completely support this sentiment. I agree with it entirely.

But, and here is where my issues with the phrase begin, sometimes behavior is not communication.

What it means is that not everything I do – or any other person with a disability does – centers around you and trying to impart information to you and trying to get you in particular to do something. And this one of my problems with the phrase “behavior is communication”: it is very self-centered.

By re-framing someone’s actions as “trying to communicate something to me,” you are basically writing their entire existence to center on you – your actions, your thoughts, your feelings.

And the fact is, someone else’s life does not center on you. It centers on them […]