THE LABEL LEVEL
For a very long time I was happy, almost proud to call myself a “Mom to three boys with Autism”. Sometimes I will still slip and say that. Mostly now it’s because of who I am speaking to. For their benefit. If they won’t understand my wording otherwise. I am working on not doing it at all. Why? Because it’s just not accurate. At least not for me. I am a Mom of three boys. Plain and simple. Their diagnoses do not define them, nor are they separate from them.
Just as a snowflake is made of water and cannot be separated out, so too is Autism a part of my boys’ character. It has shaped each of their individual personalities. Yet, they are each very different. Much like snowflakes. But we are made of the same flesh and blood, bone and oxygen. And snowflakes are made of the same water that has undergone the same chemical changes, however, each one is unique. No two are the same. Like my boys. Why then do we group children with Autism as though they are all the same? Why did I?
The other day when C-Man and I were at Target, he got to talking (which he does) to the man behind us about Legos and all sorts of things. When we were almost done, the man said to me that C had completely changed his view of view of Autism. How did he know C had Autism? Because he proudly told him. The man told me that he had a very narrow view of Autism and how it expressed itself in children, and that C had been so different from that, it had made him rethink what he thought. Yeah, about that.
When dealing with any diagnoses, it may have a set of criteria that are similar and so we believe we have it figured out and every child with that diagnoses should act, look and think EXACTLY the same. Then we go so far as to come up with plans and schooling, therapies and calendars to “help” with those set of criteria. And when it doesn’t work 100% of the time with 100% of the population with that diagnoses, we are stupefied. We add diagnoses. We have no idea what to do.
Man did I go down this road. I exclaimed AUTISM as loud as I could because it gave me something to grab on to. It was an explanation to something I didn’t understand. Not understanding is scary. Especially when it’s your own child. Aren’t we supposed to have all the answers?
I got all the therapies and read the books and went to the doctors and did ALL the things. But my kids didn’t get “better”. My life didn’t improve and neither did theirs. I lost hope. I felt alone. I sank into a pit of despair.
So here’s the thing…we don’t have to have all the answers.
Every human being, regardless of their diagnoses, is unique. They are a unique expression of their genes, their experiences, their past traumas, and their environment. Even identical twins don’t have the exact same of each of those. No two human beings are the same. So there is no one size fits all method for dealing with, teaching to, or servicing, a child. With or without a diagnosis of Autism.
So what does that mean?
When you’ve met one child with Autism, congratulations! You’ve met a new human being that you get to learn about. A beautiful, shiny soul that has a set of characteristics unlike anyone else you will ever meet. How amazing is that?
What I’ve found is that we try to make that amazing soul into something it’s not. We try and tell him or her what safe feels like when we don’t know the unique code that has been written upon their soul. We spout rules and expectations that are aimed for a one size fits all society when we do not live in one, and we shake our heads in exasperation when it fails.
What works is to see this child as perfect and whole, right now. Because they are. And when things get challenging because their code, their unique make up doesn’t fit into the world around them or the rules set up, then find out why. What about their code is different? Is there trauma? Is it genetic? Is there an environmental element here? And do so with curiosity. Leave the judgement behind. Learn about the little human you have in front of you and why this particular moment is difficult for them. Include them in the conversation. Who knows more about them, than them?
The more you do this, the easier it will become. Knowledge is power, right? Investing in connection with a child is the greatest investment we can make. They are the future. Getting to know a child, their unique make up, is fascinating. When you step outside of the diagnosis and just see a human being, a whole world opens up. A world of possibility.
So, what’s possible for you and those AuSome kidlets you know? I can’t wait to hear all about it.
To hear more about the label level, watch my YoutTube Video Here: The Label Level