Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TDT #30 - Labels

One of the ways I have always done my countdowns when my  husband is away is by counting trash days.  Most of the time it isn't as daunting a number as the estimated number of days he'll be gone.  And it helps me remember to put the trash out, or rather encourage my boys to put the trash out since it's their job.  So this will be my new weekly post, and I'll just really post whatever, no real set theme.  Please feel free to join me on this adventure of counting down the time until your loved one comes home!
  


Since my last entry where I posted that my son Neil is on the Autism Spectrum, I have received a lot of feedback.  Most of it is positive or others reaching out and asking questions about our journey as they embark on their own.  I'm good with that.  What's been interesting though is that I have also received some negative feedback from people.  I have had people ask me my I was "hiding" this or why I never talked openly about his "issues".  I have to laugh because for anyone who has ever engaged in a personal conversation with me, they know that I'm not shy at all about talking about Neil and the struggles and triumphs we have endured, I just don't feel I need to advertise a "label" for the world.

Let me say this...I have no issue with anyone who shares Autism clip art or wears any type of jewelry to bring awareness.  I think Awareness is very important.  I have simply chosen to go the route in a slightly different way.  I have watched so many children who have Autism, ADHD or any other type of mental disorder be treated horribly.  I have seen them prejudged based on what a piece of paper says or when someone mentions that their child has one thing or another.  I have dealt with it in my journey with Neil.  I've had teachers assume he was a behavior problem based on the fact that he had an IEP and he had it listed on his records that he took medication for ADHD.  I have had teachers argue with me that he understands clearly what is being said but that he is "lazy" and makes no effort to do what is asked of him.  I have had people straight up tell me that I am using his "disability" as an excuse to let him get away with many things.  I laugh at that too...just ask anyone who actually knows me beyond a 5 minute meeting.

So what's the point of this post?  It's to say clearly for the world that I am not ashamed of my son.  What I am ashamed of is the labels that today's society seems to feel the need to slap on our kids and the judgement that follows.  My efforts in not flashing a neon sign with my child's list of disabilities were to give him a fair shake in this world.  The world is not going to accommodate him when he grows up and leaves home as an adult.  I have to do the best I can to teach him to adapt and live in a world that isn't set up for someone like him.  I'm not going to be doing him any favors by coddling him or making excuses for him.

On that note, please know that I will do whatever it takes to set my child up for success.  Dealing with a child who has limitations in social skills and learning is all about challenges and victories.  Some days it seems like we are simply treading water and trying to survive.  Other times life is good and you are going at a steady pace.   Today I am struggling because I have someone who will not take the time to see my child, the individual.  They want to be stuck in a label and say awful things to my son and break him down in a manner that is both unprofessional and unnecessary.  Unfortunately, that too is a lesson that my son will have to learn to navigate through life and it is one that I have to teach him.

I don't have time to label my son, and I wish everyone else would stop wasting their time too and just look at him as the person that the Lord created him to be and know that he is somebody beyond a label and medical diagnosis.

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