I don’t prefer labels. Even a “label” that is a useful diagnosis, is still just a word. It’s not a thing. It doesn’t make anything more or less real and than it was before the label was applied. It doesn’t change the truth. And what I tend to find is that once someone has your label, it’s as if they no longer have need of you. You fit neatly into the little box in their brains that fits the label, and they no longer see the real, beautiful, multi-faceted YOU behind the sticker they’ve stuck on your forehead.
I know this, because I do this. And for the longest time, I did this when I thought of the label “autism”. It conjured images of silence and raging and retreat and lack of contact and incomprehensibility. But not people. Not persons.
Many years ago, a good friend told my mom that she hoped she’d have a daughter who was artistic (like my mom). But, she joked, knowing her luck, the poor child would be AUTISTIC instead.
It was funny for a second and then I dismissed it. The little I knew about autism was limited to Rain Man and Temple Grandin and the daughter of a (different) friend of my mom’s. It seemed daunting and overwhelming – a silent, impenetrable and very lonely world.
However. The more research we do into what makes our Goldilocks so very unique and, frankly, awesome, the more confirmation w get that she’s securely seated on the Autism Spectrum herself.
I know we’re lucky. I know our few challenges are mild, and well worth their weight in the rewards we get when we interact with her amazing mind. I know we’re blessed as we learn to respect and appreciate that very DIFFERENTness that, in the end, unites us all. We’re all the same because we’re all so different.
So when I read about the raging battles around this subject currently being waged in the US, my heart breaks. It’s hard to understand from the outside, I suppose, but Diary of a Mom always does a great job explaining it.
In a recent post, she said this:
“How would it feel if your parents said, “I love you so much that I want to fundamentally change you in order to relieve your suffering,” and “I want to make sure that no one like you is born in the future because it’s just too hard.” “
To me, that is deeply thought-provoking. Imagine that, indeed.
And then there’s this:
“Because when people like you are murdered and the immediate response is sympathy for the killer, it’s terrifying.”
When we assume that a person who cannot speak has nothing to say, or a person who cannot hug lacks love and compassion; when we apply a label to a person and let that little label tell us all we feel we need to know about a person, as Kierkegaard said, we truly negate their personhood. We have no right to do that.
You can read the full post here.