autism, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

When Words Hurt

Recently, while Morgan and I were walking down an aisle at Walmart, we noticed a toddler fussing with his mom.  Just as we passed them, the little guy yelled, “NO!”  Morgan whipped around and said, “Oh Baby!  Do Not Do That!  You Scared Me!”  Needless to say, he stopped mid yell, eyes wide open, mouth shut.  Mom was pleased.  I blushed.  We both shared a knowing smile.  Whew.  With Morgan, what comes up, comes out.  Thankfully, this was a positive for everyone, even the startled toddler. 😉

One of the most difficult challenges for Morgan is something we call “trigger words”.  While her response to the child in Walmart was kind of appropriate, her response to these triggers can be anything but.   I’m beginning to understand that each of these words and phrases bring back an unpleasant memory for her.  Hearing them puts Morgan back in that moment, as if was happening right then, causing a knee-jerk reaction.   Unfortunately, these words and phrases are a part of our everyday conversation and they come up often.  They can quickly bring a pleasant interaction with her to an end.  When helping her develop new relationships, and greater independence, they continue to be a major roadblock. 


The following is a short list of her trigger words and phrases; Choice, Hour, Looks Like, Sounds Like, Tickle, Difficult, Typical (words that have the “icle” sound), Fine, Something Else, and the most recent is the word “OK”.  OK, as you can imagine, this is hard to keep up with for those of us who know Morgan.  A new friend is certain to step on one or more of these when trying to get to know her.  Morgan’s reaction is to sternly say, “Oh, Do Not Say That!” or “You Hurt Me!” leaving her new acquaintance very bewildered. ;-/

I remember one family vacation where the word “hour” kept coming up on a very long car trip.  Morgan would yelp.  Just when we’d get her calmed down, someone would say it again.  We were so exhausted from the fallout, we all got the giggles.  I threatened to head-bonk anyone who said it again, including myself. 


We welcome any educated or creative ideas, if they exist, to help Morgan cope with the words that hurt.  In the meantime, we keep a thesaurus handy.  To loosely quote a mom friend of mine, ” There is no FBI agent, or Homeland Security team,  more able or driven to flush out the culprit, and secure the area of concern, than a mom on a mission.” 😉

Helping the world see the Morgan I know and love, helping them see beyond these barriers is my daily prayer.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!



2 thoughts on “When Words Hurt

  1. Oh, we have the same sort of thing! My daughter reacts to certain phrases, and once that “file” is opened, it could be months and months of revisiting unpleasant moments inn the past. Those moments may be ten, fifteen, years old, but when they are reactivated we may as well be right back in them.

    • Hope you’re able to find the answers you need to help her cope. A friend recently told me her son had dealt with triggers, due to PTSD. He is also on the autism spectrum. Neuro-feedback was helpful for him. We plan to get more information on this.

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