It’s Not a Label

I wrote this after reading something on line. Yet another parent with a child who has symptoms of a disorder, who doesn’t want to take her child to the doctor, because she doesn’t want him labelled. It’s a common story in today’s anti-label society. We’re constantly made to believe that the label is evil, horrible, damaging to a child. And so, it’s easy to become scared of a label.

But that’s the sad truth of mental/neurological illness today: everyone thinks we’ve come so far, that we’re more understanding, more aware. But quite honestly, that’s a joke. Mental/neurological illness is every bit as much of a stigma today. Ignorance about it still abounds.

Today’s “thing” is all about the label. “Don’t focus on the label!” “Oh don’t label him! It’s awful to label a child!” “The label is going to hold them back!” But here’s the truth: it’s not a label – it’s a DIAGNOSIS. People don’t freak out when you say your child has diabetes or cystic fibrosis or scoliosis, and accuse you of labeling your child. Why? Because those words are recognized as diagnoses.

And so are Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, Tourettes Syndrome, Bi-Polar, Manic Depression. They are all diagnoses – not labels. The only difference is that they’re mental/neurological, instead of physical. Only ignorance turns the words into “labels”. Unfortunately, our society still doesn’t treat diagnoses equally. Sadly, we’re still more willing to accept physical illness, than neurological and/or mental.

Doctors are not “labeling” children. They are diagnosing them with recognized disorders, in order to get the child treatment, to ensure that they grow up to be healthy and productive to the best of their ability – the same goal of EVERY parent. You can’t get insulin without a diagnosis. Nor can you get therapy without one.

Parents who verbally say the name of their child’s disorder are not “labeling” their child – they are acknowledging what is different about their child. “My child has autism” means the exact same thing as “My child has diabetes”. The parent is merely saying, “My child has different/special/above normal (whatever term you want to use) needs.”

A diagnosis is a diagnosis. Period.

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