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Labels Don’t Change the Important Stuff

Catching up and sharing from the files of my ramblings. This particular set is from November 30, 2015.

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Our oldest daughter asked me the other day, “What kind of autism does Ben have?”

It was a fair enough question as she knows other kids with specific diagnoses such as Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD-NOS, but these labels aren’t something we’ve necessarily talked all that much about when it comes to her brother.

This could be for a variety of reasons:
a) He’s a person, not a diagnosis.
b) There are so many variances even within the different types of autism that no two kids are alike.
c) Specific types aren’t always diagnosed as young as Ben was when we initially took him to Easter Seals.

But, if I’m honest with myself, it’s probably as much
d) we don’t know
as anything.

Initially, this was a little frustrating at best, but the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve begun to wonder if it really matters what kind of autism it is? Beyond knowing how to best help him learn to help himself, do the labels really matter? Yes, they can help us better understand him and how he deals with things, even help point us in the right direction in terms of research, therapy, and assistance, but they don’t change the important stuff.

The bottom line is that he is a person first. Sure, he has a few little quirks that set him apart from his peers, but in all honesty, don’t we all?

Ben’s official diagnosis was simply “autism” along with a side of expressive/receptive language disorder and a slight motor delay. All that really tells us is that yes, he does in fact have autism, communication is going to be a challenge area for him, and he may have a slightly different gate when walking and running than others.

I find myself returning to one of the most poignant pieces of wisdom a dear friend shared with me the day before our diagnostic clinic: Ben will be the same boy coming home from the clinic that he was going into Easter Seals. He will still be your son. You will still love him to the ends of the earth. No label can change that. Diagnosis can help you know which direction to turn, but it will not change anything about who he is or the fact that he is still your son and you are still his parents.

THANK YOU

We still laugh and cry. He still wins my heart over every single time he looks me in the eye. We still hug and kiss and love, all the same as before our D-day. Yes, labels can help us know where to head for understanding and assistance, but they don’t define him or us.

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