DEALING WITH THE LABEL

The weighty word of autism. Loaded with visions of the disabled, my son is now included in its legal protections and negative insinuations. Just because he has a label does not mean he will not be wildly successful one day. And just because of this label, I will not downgrade his potential.

Nor will this label define him.

Is the diagnosis that easy for everyone to get, I wonder? Was it easy because we asked about it, or was it easy because it was so obvious? He seems so mild on the spectrum, maybe it is not significant and we should ignore it. Do we share this weighty diagnosis with friends? Do we tell him?

I am embarrassed to admit that we were ashamed of the word at first. It is such a big diagnosis that carries so much heaviness with it. I hate it. Yet I am thankful for it. It is comforting to finally fit into a group, to be able to explain away behavior and its crushing frustrations. And it is invaluable to have resources, strategies, and answers all under this umbrella.

I have several friends who have held this diagnosis a secret for years. Some refused to even allow the word to be spoken. I know other families that know for certain that their child is on the spectrum, but they refuse to diagnose, for fear of discrimination and labelling.

I understand both, and I have been both. There is a lot of fear with this diagnosis, and a whole lot of grieving.

For our family, we figured it was time to be brave. If we stop being afraid of autism, then it won’t take such hold over us. We can better understand and adapt – and we can begin to see its beautiful blessings.

The beauty of someone who sees the world from a different perspective is truly life changing, and we wouldn’t change that for the world.

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