This mother speaks to the complexities of labelling in her Washington Post article. It chimes with the David Mitchell piece I blogged on recently.
When labels do not come close to describing what they are attempting to describe perhaps they become unhelpful?
From Washington Post: "...My 10-year-old son can change from an adorable, quirky little dude to an aggressive screamer in a second. He sinks so far, so fast, that I forget about his strengths and drown in his weaknesses. I wish I could make it stop.
There’s a diagnosis that explains it: autism... A child with an autism diagnosis, no matter how intelligent, charming, or funny, has challenges, and they aren’t mild. According to a recent article in The Economist, Britain’s National Autistic Society survey found that only 12 percent of so-called high-functioning people with autism in that country have full-time employment. As reported in Science, another study found that autistic adults without a learning disability were nine times more likely than control subjects to die by suicide....
Modifiers have no place in a home where a child aces 20 math problems, builds a stuffed animal fort with his sister, devours a plate of meatloaf, shoots 20 baskets on his closet-door hoop and then sparks instant chaos without warning. Over mouthwash. Only strong effort makes James as competent as he is — most of the time. And sometimes even that isn’t enough.
Public understanding of autism, as well as my own, has improved over the past 20 years. It’s neither all ability nor all disability, but it’s always some of each. ... It’s now autism spectrum disorder for everyone who qualifies for a diagnosis. No more modifiers or alternative labels. And that’s as it should be."
And David Mitchell: "“So how autistic is your son, exactly?” “Well, his sensory processing is pretty cyan these days. Speech-wise, he’s light magenta. A nice canary yellow when it comes to motor control and memory functions, mind you. Thanks for asking.”"
If you'd like to feel inspired by commencement addresses and life lessons try: Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; or JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. and Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude .