Labels

I’ve been reading posts about labels – they’re bad/limiting, they’re good/helpful/freeing, etc. Personally, I’m on the side of “a label gives you information to make better decisions/explains what’s going on” (like the ones here and here).

But here’s the thing – people who say “don’t label your child, you’ll limit them” are full of crap. It’s not the label that’s the issue – it’s the people who interpret the label. People assign labels themselves, regardless of the label of my son’s diagnosis.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 4. This label enabled him to get services that helped him and continue to help him. I am thankful for the label.

My son got a “label” this weekend when he was playing in a kids play area at a restaurant. It was “given” to him by an older kid. That label was “MENTAL”, “MENTAL RETARD”. Why? Because my just-turned-7 year old, who is the size of a 10-11 year old, was acting his age-with a splash of autism quirky.

No, I didn’t go ballistic – outside my head anyway. I made it a teaching moment for the “labelers”.

“Mental” – that, ladies and gentlemen, is a label that hurts and limits my child. Labels like “freak”, “weirdo”, etc.

Ignorance hurts my child.

Descrimination hurst my child.

The label of Autistic doesn’t.

The only time I worry about the autistic label is when I think of how misinformed, judgemental people will react to it, and how they will behave towards and limit my child’s potential. Informed, understanding people take it for what it is – an explanation of atypical behavior and processing.

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