Some will say I am in denial, but I am decidedly not. I refuse to apply a label to children based on one or two people’s view of what is “different” about them. My son was four years old when the first “specialist” approached me. Her concern? My son would not play with the other kids in the circle at preschool. He preferred to sit alone and play with the blocks. She thought he needed to be brought in to see a series of specialists. I complied, simply because I was concerned by her observations.
The first suggested diagnoses by his speech therapist after one 20 minute observation was PDD-NOS. I quickly took to the internet to search it and this is what I found out…..it meant that they knew he was “different” but really couldn’t determine what the difference was. Ok. Fine.
Then the insurance companies decided that the prescribed therapy (speech, behavioral and occupational) was not covered unless he was to get a formal diagnosis of being on the autistic spectrum. I decided to pay out-of-pocket and it was costing us upwards of $600/week. I was at a crossroads, find a doctor who would give us a diagnosis or go broke paying for his much-needed therapy.
After visiting 7 different doctors, who would not diagnose him as being on the spectrum, I finally found one that agreed, after I told him about my predicament, to give him a formal diagnosis. Therapy then costed me only $60/week in co-pays.
Years have passed since this time, therapy is a thing of the past and he is now a fully functioning junior high student that gets awesome grades and even attends honors classes.
You can ask him what autism is and he may know, but he does not think he is autistic. Neither do I. I hate the labels. When you focus solely on the differences we all have, and label them, we can easily come up with labels for everyone. My friend hates any foreign foods. Is she palate impaired? I know a guy who cannot dance to save his life? Is he coordinatively impaired? What spectrum do they fall into? We throw labels around much too easily and often.
Are we labeling too often and too soon lately? Yes, I think so. I am not downplaying the importance of Autism awareness, I think there are many children who the label definitely applies to. I do not, however, think it applies to all that are labeled as such.
I do think he has a different way of thinking than most people, but in many ways it is far superior to other people. He was determining percentages at age 5 and analyzing probability in the 1st grade. He questioned world hunger, religion and politics by age 7. Maybe he has a problem making social connections, so what. So do many people, do we label them? Show me a 12-year-old that is perfectly comfortable meeting new people and having perfect relationships with them and I will be shocked.
I thank God every day that I was given such a caring, intelligent and beautiful child to raise. I feel that way about each of my children. I refuse to label them, any of them.
We throw labels around way too much lately. The only labels I will apply to them are what I am sure they are…. loving, beautiful, intelligent and cherished children.
Ok, rant finished.