Labels Labels Labels, they’re tricky I tell you. When we’re kids, we could care less about them it’s when we get older that we start to allow labels to dictate who we will and who we won’t get to know. You know how we label people without even knowing it…she’s cute, he’s smart, she’s selfish, or he’s autistic. Yes autistic is a label. Why would you say it’s a label if the person is actually autistic? Good question! The same way a pretty girl is pretty but she constantly is saying there’s more to her than her pretty face. She’s probably smart, funny, and a talented dancer…but all people accept her for is the fact that she’s pretty. Pretty has become a label, it’s a positive label but she’d prefer that people go beyond that label and get to know her.
Labels sometimes allow people to take the easy way out. They kind of allow a person to say…Instead of getting to know you, I’ll trust what this label says and then decide whether or not I want to put forth the effort. Sounds harsh but it’s true. I wish people could push past the label and get to know the individual. Autism doesn’t diminish creative, smart, funny, and talented. All of those things still exist in an autistic person but if you can’t get past “autistic” you’ll never know. When it comes to autism, there are so many people that don’t understand it. The individual is on a spectrum, it’s a wide range that goes from mild to severe. So you can have individuals on medication and some that aren’t, you can have some that have speech and some that don’t, you can have some that are able to socialize with their peers and some that aren’t…..but all are autistic. So you see, you need to know the person to know where they are on the spectrum. But that means going beyond the label.
When observing my daughter at school, I see a lot of the children doing just that….looking beyond the label. One day I was picking my daughter up from latchkey and normally my daughter is on the computer while everyone else is doing something else. And when I come, the children announce my presence by yelling to my daughter “your mommy’s here!” So on this day, after the announcement was made my daughter got off of the computer and began getting her coat and backpack. As she was putting on her coat, one little girl came up to her and said “here, you’re invited to my party” and she handed my daughter an invitation. Now just seeing that, I thought it was cute because she’s accepting that my daughter’s not going to be the most social and she might not even say anything to her…but she still wants her to come to her party. We can learn a lot from our children. Make an effort to go beyond the label and get to know the individual.