Removing “Can’t” Out of My Vocabulary

I was recently at a talk hosted by The Ontario Brain Institute.  One of the speakers, Member of Parliament for Edmonton, Mike Lake, said something that really stuck with me.  One of his parting words to the audience was, and I’m paraphrasing: “don’t let your child get away with not doing things for themselves.”  This really resonated with me. Long after my sons autism diagnosis, I had a ‘can’t do’ attitude. “He can’t jump”…“He can’t play catch”… “He can’t learn to play piano”… etc.

I’m ashamed to admit that this is just a small example of the things I said my son “can’t do”, and he has proven me wrong time and time again.  He CAN jump.  He CAN play catch.  He CAN play the piano.  He has even taught himself to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” which has blown my mind.  Watch:

He’s no Mozart, but he CAN learn to play the piano. Remember, this song is self taught!

I’ve been proven wrong by my son on many occasions. He has shown me that he’s capable of almost anything. He has put my doubts to rest.

Not too long ago, I asked my sons therapist about her thoughts on his progress, all she could say was “that kid can’t generalize!” Generalizing skills and information can be difficult for those on the autism spectrum, but to say my child “can’t generalize” really got my blood boiling. She was and is wrong. Yes he CAN.

I’ve decided that ‘can’t’ is a terrible word and has to be removed from my vocabulary, particularly when it comes to my son. When I say he can’t do something, I’m already doubting him and creating a barrier around his life.

So today, right now, I am going to remove this word for good.

From now on there is nothing he can’t do.



Hi, I’m Stephanie, mother to Max, a sweet, funny, and wonderful little boy. Max received an ASD diagnosis seven days after his second birthday. This is our journey.