I have yet to find a downside to what so many refer to as a label. It is, in fact, a diagnosis, something many tend to overlook. My oldest son will soon be twenty-five years old, he is most likely the wisest person I will ever be blessed to have known in this life. He lives his life on the autistic spectrum; he has a thing or two to say about labels . . .
“Labels are for soup cans, diagnoses are for people, but they both serve the same purpose. They tell you what is inside and how to properly prepare it. If you have five cans on a shelf and one does not have a label, you are going to use the four cans that are labeled first because you know what they are. You know if they will need certain ingredients or special preparation. Sometimes the can missing its label never gets used. You put new cans in front of it and it remains there. When you do finally look inside to see what it is, you’ll see that it was something you really wanted, but it’s too late to use it. It will never be what it was supposed to be.
Now instead of a soup can, imagine a child who is different from the others, but no one knows why. The child gets overlooked and ignored because no one knows what to do with him, how to teach him, how to prepare him for the future because the diagnosis, or label that should tell everyone how to do these things was never given to that child. So they remain in the background becoming more and more lost. When they get older and someone comes along and decides to find out what is going on inside that child, it’s too late. The education and the therapy they needed were never given to them and they will never be what they were supposed to be.”
When my son wrote this I was in awe at his insight, he was eighteen at the time. I know if I’d been afraid of that proverbial label, he would not have become the amazing young man he is. I was told he would never talk, never learn. I listen to him speak and I read the words he writes and I know I did the right thing for him. The one little word, autistic, on a simple piece of paper changed the course of his life for the better.
Two of my children require very specific labels if they are to get the services they need and deserve, both have been blessed with the gift of a proper diagnosis. One of my children faces many, many challenges. Before I had names for those challenges he was considered a problem child. He was thought to be rude, lazy and was accused of ignoring his teachers. They told me he didn’t want to learn. The truth was, he did want to learn, they just didn’t know how to teach him.
Children do not receive the occupational therapy, speech therapy and specialized education they may need simply because we ask for it. Even if all involved agree, services are still withheld for lack of a professional diagnosis. Call it a label; call it a diagnosis, in the end all that matters is your child. You want the best for them; you want their futures to be bright and filled with possibilities.
Many children never reach their full potential because society was too afraid to label them.
Wilson Wisdom can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/wilsonwisdom