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January 29, 2007 by Marj Hatzell

la·bel (lā’bəl) Pronunciation Key

  1. An item used to identify something or someone, as a small piece of paper or cloth attached to an article to designate its origin, owner, contents, use, or destination.
  2. A descriptive term; an epithet.

How do I feel about labels?

Labels can be useful. Labels can help you find things and help you obtain other things. I like labels. They make life a little easier occasionally.

The problem with labels is that when people see a label they automatically assume things. That the label is the ONLY thing the object or person is about. That the label means something entirely different. That the label inhibits or limits expectations in someway. I have a problem with these labels.

People are afraid of labels. They do not want the label to limit them. Once in a while they just do not want to know the truth about the label. These people would be happy living in a vacuum and never stepping outside of the box. They go the same place for vacation every year. Their hair is cut exactly the same way every six weeks. They do not want to wake up tomorrow and have things different in their lives. Status Quo.

The problem with this mindset is that sometimes people NEED the labels. Certain labels can get you certain things. Sometimes you need that label to get something really awesome for your kid. And so what? IT’S JUST A WORD! IT’S JUST A LABEL!!!! That word has nothing to do with your kid. It does not mean your child won’t achieve, won’t succeed. It does not mean your child is bad or horrible. It is not a dirty word, just a label. Just a descriptive. Something that others use to describe what they do not know. When there is nothing to tell you they use this word. When you have this word stamped on a piece of paper it is like a golden ticket, like passing GO and collecting the coveted $200.

It really hurts me that people I love do not see that. They think that the child is just developing at his own rate. That he will grow out of it because so-and-so did. That it is just a quirky part of his personality and LOOK HOW CUTE AND SMART HE IS!!! That it will just go away. Because he isn’t half as severe as your son, because everyone uses your son as the guide of development. Their son isn’t THAT WORD because the talk, see? And they aren’t toilet trained but he tells you when he is wet or has an accident, even if he is five and supposedly starting kindergarten in September. That he has some other more desirable disability, because even though these disorders are all related and have similar issues, the “one my kid might have is WAY better than what your kid has”. I mean, because Asperger’s is WAY better than Autism. ADD is WAY better than autism. Developmental Delays are WAY better than Autism. Because Autism means your kid is not worth as much. He needs pity. He needs people to feel sorry for him. To excuse his behavior. To allow him to get away with murder because it is just so sad that he doesn’t understand. And why try to make him work for something or ask for it? He just doesn’t understand. Poor, Poor little boy. He’ll always be like this so we have to enable him. But “not my kid.” “My kid” will be fine. “My kid talks, He’s doing well, it will go away, he’s growing out of it..”. No need to see a developmental ped. No need to go to a Neuro. “I don’t need answers because my head is up my arse.”

Don’t be afraid of the label. It is not about you. It is about your child. What does the child need? The heck with what you and your husband think! All that matters is that your child gets what he needs.

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