There are brilliant autism stories that have been written, blog posts that have been posted, and articles that have been published, that are sadly buried in the news feeds and blogosphere…We’re on the hunt for these missing manuscripts to bring these ‘treasures’ back for you to discover!
In this article, Jennifer gives us much to think about…
What’s in a Name…Er…Label?
By Jennifer Marie Dirks, Emelie’s Voice
There is a faction of society that balks at the idea of labeling kids with a diagnosis based on behavior and observation. If you can’t prove something through concrete evidence, it’s not a real science to be used. They think we over medicate our children, don’t use enough interventions or therapies, we should do counseling. The fact is, it’s true we MAY over medicate our children. We probably could do more interventions and therapies. Most of us have done counseling but aren’t at a point where we see the progress we need. For many of us, the alternatives are not good for the children necessarily or we just cannot afford what our insurances won’t pay. Put that all aside for a moment though. What about labels? Why do so many of us have mixed feelings on them and what is the necessity of them? I’ll get into that in a second.
Here is my personal take on the labels. I think it’s about how the labels are used. If we use labels to get our children the resources they need and not as an excuse, crutch or definition of them, they have a purpose. Teaching our children that they can raise above the sum of their diagnosis and helping them navigate life to the point is what we are as parents, caregivers, educators and emotional/physical/health providers are suppose to be doing. Without having an understanding of what the child needs, sometimes the only way to get the information of what that child may be dealing with is to have that label.
And not one person I know is saying, my child is xyz and that’s all they will be indefinitely. Once they get that sucker punch diagnosis where they struggle to come to terms with it, they may. However, once they understand the hope that remains, they try to remove the box they first saw their child in. They struggle to see a child with a debilitating condition grow past it but most retain hope in the fact they can become MORE. They can still choose their path. Just have more obstacles to overcome to get there. For some it may be working with and through a group home, but they will be someone’s friend. Someone’s joy. Something more than that label.
That being said, many of us still struggle with those labels. I think it is out of fear that it WILL come to determine who or what our child is to someone. It will limit them. We often have to fight back to make sure we aren’t limiting them and encouraging them. To ensure they don’t use it as an excuse or a crutch. That we call them out when they do. And that goes for people interacting with our children too. We often are on edge of others making excuses FOR our children. We have to be strong enough to call them out. Let them know that our children are more than that label. So we make a conscious effort to ensure labels do not define our children.
So I ask, before you judge someone for allowing their child to be “slapped with a label”. Try to understand where that family may have been. Not every family is prepared for a diagnosis when it comes. Yet, when it comes, they have answers. They may not like those answers and look around and get second and third opinions before they come to a conclusion they can accept. They may feel like their whole world is collapsing. They may have mixed feelings. However, labels do have a purpose, in my opinion. Everyone is allowed to their opinions and if you disagree with me, I accept that. Can you accept mine?
**Jennifer Marie Dirks and her daughter, Em, share their journey on Em’s Journey, their Facebook page, and on their blog, Emelie’s Voice. Em has Autism and wants people to see the world through her eyes. Read about their new book, “Emelie’s Voice” available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Authorhouse.