“The Label”

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“I know my son is on the spectrum, but it doesn’t matter.  We don’t need “the label” or anything.”

My friend and I stood side by side, watching a little league game take place in front of us.  I mentally shrugged and physically nodded when he made the above statement.

“Okay,” I returned.

Truth be told, I also feel that my friend’s son is on the spectrum.  I have witnessed his son have numerous problems in social situations.  I have seen him become fixated on different sensory issues.  He has an extremely large vocabulary and is known to be the best reader in his class.  His social bluntness is deemed cute and he is loved by all.

Even me.  He really is a sweetheart.

But the statement got to me.  Here’s why.

“The Label”

I’ve said it before – “The Label” gets on my nerves.

My kids do not have tags hanging from them that have an “Autism” written on them.

Autism is not something that defines their beings.

I don’t introduce my kids by saying:

“This is autism two and here’s autism one.

They love to play in the bright, sunny sun”

And I don’t use “the label” to excuse behavior.

Referencing “The label” is a new minimizing statement.  And it really gets to me.

When Declan was 2 years old I took him to the Pediatrician for his well visit.  It was at that visit the Pediatrician felt “something’s wrong.”

That’s not something I wanted to hear.

When Catelyn’s problems became so overwhelming for her that she became depressed, I took her for help.  I was surprised she was going to be treated for autism.

My kids were diagnosed by professionals.  Not labeled.

My kids were diagnosed because they needed help.  They were not succeeding in their development.  And so I reached out to help them.

I shudder to think if I had not reached out.  How stressed and sad the kids and entire family would be today.  How they would have continued to try to reach out and make friends and succeed in all relationships, social, educational and professional, as they aged, until they possibly, finally gave up.

Or were LABELED “the bad kids.”

Instead the kids were diagnosed and proper therapies and strategies, support and understanding were provided to them.  They were directed to professionals that understood what they were going through and knew how to help.  They are now on the path to success!

From a clinical perspective, a person is diagnosed with something when their symptoms:

“cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”

For my kids, this was the case.

Maybe some people don’t feel they need “the label.”

My kids didn’t need “the label” either.

But they did need the diagnosis.  To get the treatment and to help them on to the path of feeling good.


20 thoughts on ““The Label”

  1. I am sorry there are those who feel the need to “label” others. I was “labeled” shorty in grade school and that feeling still is there today even though I will be 50. I don’t think Jesus wanted to have people labeled. Praying the kids have an awesome summer!

    1. Yes, labels can be very negative in nature and hurtful. They are frustrating! I don’t think so either. Thank you so much!

  2. I love this. We got diagnosed so we could understand our boy better and to be able to help him embrace being him to the best of our ability. Without ‘the label’ we would still be in the dark about how to handle certain situations for him.

    1. Exactly! Once my kids were diagnosed proper treatment was put in place and we noticed a change immediately. The kids began to feel happier and my husband and I felt relief because we were learning about what was happening and how to handle situations. The stress lessened. Thank you!

    1. Such a struggle – I am so glad she persevered and was able to get the diagnosis so your granddaughter could the proper treatment, therapies and support!

  3. None of us need labels. We do not need to be labelled as ” anorexic” or “depressive” or ” manic”. I am now labelled as a “senior”. I don’t feel very “senior”. I say resist labels.

  4. Ahhh….so much more work to do educating people. You nailed it with this post!! I absolutely agree that without diagnosis & support our wonderful kiddos would be labeled “behavior problems” or “bad”. BRAVO🙌👏✨🌹🌟💖

    1. Yes, it was frustrating hearing someone didn’t need “the label” like it was a new somewhat useful product you could just pick up off a shelf and buy, or something. And as caregivers we are not asking for our kids to have problems – we are asking for our kids to be supported and helped. And professionals are diagnosing our kids helping us access support and services. To help them feel better than if no services were in place. Thank you! Yes, so much more education needed!

  5. Spot on. To offer a simplistic example, I’ve heard the same conversation over and over about ADHD. People are so concerned about labeling their child that they often forgo a really effective treatment. Avoiding diagnoses makes it harder to accurately treat the ailment or syndrome. My world has seriously improved since I received my Tourettes diagnosis – although at the time I wasn’t crazy about the label. Now, I were it with pride.

    1. Yes! I agree – I wrote a post once about Autism being the latest fad, comparing it to ADHD – when the diagnosis was on the rise. I think some people don’t want “the label” but for all the wrong reasons. I too, didn’t want Declan diagnosed – but that was because I was afraid of autism. But his life, and the stress around the whole family, has greatly improved because of the help we have received once he was diagnosed. I agree, we are who we are, diagnoses and all, and I am proud of of my kids!

  6. So you don’t label, you get the proper diagnoses! With out finding out what exactly the trouble is in your kid’s lives how would they ever get the diagnoses and help that they needed to flourish in spite of their individual problems?

  7. Thank you so, so much for this piece. I recall Stuart Duncan once saying that autism isn’t a “disability”, but rather a different ability. Many people let their preconceptions get in the way of attempting to understand others, which in turn creates a wall and allows them to see those people as outsiders- as people they have the right to judge. Even though they never took the time to educate themselves on this person and get to know him or her better. Some say that to be human means to be ignorant and in-empathetic. If that’s the case, it demonstrates why I hate the majority of people. Labels are overrated.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! Yes, I have heard that quote and think it is great. I agree – people tend to use a check list to immediately try to understand other people. And when things don’t fit, the other person is just that – an other. And then the other person adheres to another whole set of preconceived notions not related to the person at all. Awareness is key – in so many aspects of society including autism. Yes, I do not like that thought about humans either. Labels are overrated! I don’t want to be labeled anything, nor my kids. I, like most, want acceptance and understanding for my family. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Robyn,
    Thank you for following my blog!!
    I was diagnosed — NOT LABELED– as autistic in 2001. Thankfully, I had a big friend base in school that had my and my older brother Kinsey (We’re twins– he’s older than me!!) under their wings! I always pray for families who have kiddos on the spectrum. I will pray for you 🙂
    Thanks Again,
    Kasey Smith (Autism Wanderings)
    Pa. 139:13-14

    1. Hi Kasey – glad we could connect! Sounds like you had a lot of support growing. That’s great! Thank you so much for your prayers! Robyn

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