Aspie or not… My love/hate relationship with lables…

Aspie, HFA (High Functioning Autistic), Dyslexic, ADD, ADHD, OCD, Bipolar Disorder), PTSD…

This is a sampling of the labels that apply to varying members of my extended family. I have a love/hate relationship with labels. Labels can be both liberating and confining based on how I relate to them.

When I received Daniel’s diagnosis, my first response was relief. All of the issues we had been struggling with suddenly made sense. The struggles with sensory issues, the difficulty potty training, the language struggles, the unusual sentence structure were all “normal” for someone with Daniel’s specific diagnosis.

Then there was the momentary panic. What if Daniel becomes confined by these labels? What if he is prevented from taking advantage of opportunities because of these labels? I determined that this was not going to be the case in our family.

The Asperger’s label has been a blessing in some ways. I have discovered it is a efficient way to change people’s paradigm. When we bring up the diagnosis, people are suddenly interested in helping rather than freaked out by Daniel’s oddities. They are willing to talk to me about problems rather than excusing themselves completely from interaction with Daniel. It opens the conversation.

The Asperger’s label has done wonders in the bureaucratic world of the public school system. Suddenly disturbing behaviors like Daniel’s personal space issues, were not viewed as Daniel being naughty. Teachers approached Daniel with a view to teaching him how to correctly interact rather than punishing him for being bad. Daniel started to make progress.

The Asperger’s label has also come with challenges at school. Frequently, less than proactive administrators have wanted to shuffle Daniel off into a self contained “special” class where he won’t require as much maintenance. There is where my determination comes into play. Daniel loves science and social studies. He excels at math and science. I remind the school that he tests high in these areas. He is legally entitled to be able to take full advantage of studying these subjects at the appropriate level for his ability. He can not be forced to study in a class below his level simply because that class has specific accommodations. I have also been fortunate to work with really amazing teachers who have supported me 100% in working to give Daniel the best possible opportunities.  As a result, Daniel has been able to study in a “main-stream” class while receiving the accommodations he needs for his dyslexia, sensory issues and social struggles associated with Asperger’s Syndrome.

In speaking with Daniel, I remind him that Asperger’s is simply a description of his set of strengths and challenges. He has to take that description and use it as a tool. He has to take advantage of the strengths it gives him. He has the responsibility to find tools to support his weaknesses.  He is responsible to work to bridge the gap for his own benefit.

The Asperger’s label can be used to our advantage or it could be an excuse for settling into our limitations. In my opinion, labels are just another tool. The deciding factor is the determination and attitude of the individual.

How have labels worked against you? How have you used them to your advantage?

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About aspergersmom

I am a 35 year old woman. I am the wife of an amazing man, who keeps me sane. As a recent California/Florida transplant to the midwest and the mother to a combined family of 6 children; 3 boys, 3 girls, my life is an adventure. I blog and raise our family with my best friend.
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3 Responses to Aspie or not… My love/hate relationship with lables…

  1. capriwim says:

    I also have mixed feelings about labels. They bring with them a lot of stereotypes and can cause people to have limited expectations of me, or to interpret things I do in a negative way. At the same time, my label enabled me to get support at college, and also enabled me to join a local Asperger group, which I really enjoy.

    And it can help people feel more comfortable with me if they know I have Aspergers. I think part of the reason it can be hard to fit in socially is that, with Aspergers, body language and facial expression don’t communicate our feelings, so people can be uncomfortable around us because they can’t read us. Knowing a person has Aspergers can make people less uncomfortable, because they have some kind of way of interpreting us – although that can also work in negative ways too!

  2. Sisterlisa says:

    I needed to get my coffee before I started to reply….we went through so much frustration in schools about 2 of our kids. None of the teachers or principals would work with me on their issues. So I went to the doctors. imo doctros are too quick to give a perscription..so we ditched the doctors too and went to the blogosphere. I found bloggers who have kids with similar issues. So we looked for natural ways to help our kids. And the first thing we had to do with their edeucation was to bring them home. The teasing by the other kids was destroying my children. The impatience from the teachers made it worse. We went through so much frustration with two schools of teachers and kids there was no way I was going to put them in another school. Homeschool was the best choice for us. Then I was under attack with criticism..things like this were said to me..”How are you rkids going to make it if you don’t have a professional teaching them?” and My reply to them…”Some professionals you have! Your system has made it worse.” We were blessed to find fellowship with other people who are patient and who do understand and our kids have grown so much since then. When you find what works for your kids, it helps so much.

    • aspergersmom says:

      I can completely relate to the frustration with schools. I have had my share of headaches. I also have run into my share of doctors who just want to prescribe medication. My search actually began on the internet. My pediatrician (at the time) thought that my son’s delays were just because he was a boy. More recently, I have been fortunate to find some doctors who would work with me and respect my desire to try natural approaches before heading down the medication route. Despite having to fight for a lot of the services my son receives, I have also been fortunate to run across some wonderful teachers who have really helped us.

      I have a lot of aspie tenancies, though never diagnosed. My mother home schooled me until 8th grade. It was a great experience for me. I have a lot of respect for parents that are able to home school. I have not started home schooling my son simply because I am not cut out for that.

      The social struggles of being different can make academics so difficult. When Daniel finds kids to connect with he does much better. He hasn’t been picked on in the past. I think his unique type of “different” makes other children more nervous around him rather than wanting to pick on him. We have, again, been fortunate. I am waiting to see what it will be like in Middle School.

      I agree that finding what works makes a huge difference. For us, it has been a piece of the puzzle at a time. I have not yet found one thing that makes a huge difference.

      Kudos to you for pushing to find solutions for your children.

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