Labels are important. They describe a person to other people (tall, short, athletic, writer…). This is true for diagnostic labels, too, because when you say “so-and-so has autism,” then the doctors have a picture painted, albeit in rather broad brushstrokes, of certain characteristics of that person. They help us get services such as the Waiver I have or IEPs or what have you. They help to explain the reasons for a person’s behaviors or idiosyncrasies. All good, necessary things.
But labels have their place. One of my staff constantly tells me that I’m “soooo high functioning” and “you’d never even guess you’re on the spectrum!” and other things like that. This is frustrating, because first of all, she’s just flat out wrong. I’ve asked other people, and they’ve said she’s wrong too. Secondly, she isn’t qualified to give such opinions and should leave it to my doctor and therapist to discuss such labels with me. Third of all, she’s the only person who says that I’m anything resembling HF, and it’s frustrating for me to have conflicting opinions thrown at me.
I’ve been tossing around ideas of what to say to her next time she says this. I don’t want to be harsh, because I was just harsh when I told her that I was uncomfortable and believed she broken HIPAA by discussing details about my case with total strangers (her answer: “It was at an autism group so I thought it would be fine.”). So, I think I’ve settled on a response…
“I’m just Lydia, thank you.”
I think that in “our world,” we get so tied up in labels that we forget who we, who our kids, really are. I am a lot of things other than autism. In fact, there is a button on CafePress that I’m going to order sometime when I can spare 5 bucks (haha, I know, when that ever happens) that says “I am more than autism” and lists a whole bunch of other adjectives that also describe me. I’ll put it on my ever-present backpack.
So, friends, you have a challenge. Give me 10 adjectives to describe yourself or your kiddo or your friend or whoever it is in your life that has ASD… and “autistic” (or its cousins) can’t be one of them.
I’ll start with my best bud who has ASD whose name I won’t write in case she doesn’t want all the attention 😉
a good daughter
always puts others first
Okay. Your turn. Go!