Through my work with moms of A-Typical kids, I have my fair share of battles with labels! On one end of the spectrum I see moms who are SO resistant to putting a label on their child that he or she doesn’t get the care they need. And on the other end I see moms who will take any label just to rush through the angst and get a diagnosis. And of course, there are moms who fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
As the mom of an A-Typical son, I truly get both responses. The rush to get a diagnosis makes sense because it’s a crucial prerequisite for accessing money, funding and services. It allows you to obtain competent help for your child immediately, which is especially important in cases in which a delay could be detrimental. Also, a label gives a name to your experience. When you can say my child is “autistic” or has “ADHD”, everyone else understands (or can start to understand) what you and your family are going through.
On the flip side, the resistance to a label makes perfect sense as well. There’s a fear of pigeonholing your options, and there’s anxiety that the stigma of being A-Typical could stifle your child’s future. In addition, many moms are hesitant to appear like they’re looking for fault, and admitting that their child is “broken” and in need of some type of “fixing”.
Because this is such a hot-button issue with moms of A-Typical kids, I chose to dedicate today’s article to finding the “normal” and the “A-Typical” in all of us.
Lately, there has been a ton of research showing that certain disorders that we originally thought were unrelated (including autism, OCD, Asperger’s and ADHD) are actually all part of the same spectrum. To me, this highlights my belief that we are all cut from the same cloth; we’re all more similar than we are different. And to support my unscientific hypothesis that there’s a little bit of the spectrum in each of us, I will use behavior examples from my very own family. Forgive me, guys; it’s in the name of science!
For starters, my husband can’t hear a massive argument blowing up two feet away while he’s immersed in the newspaper. He’s so hyper-focused and involved in global crisis that he misses the third world war that’s taking place in his own living room.
I require an irritating degree of organization, and I physically cannot sleep until the house is in order. Perhaps just in case someone in my dreams will see?
Other supposedly “normal” people have these spectrum-related quirks:
- One has to have the radio volume set at an uneven number, and cannot tell you why music sounds better that way.
- Another would rather dive into a rosebush and hide than be forced to have a conversation with a neighbor at the mailbox. And honestly, she’s a really cool lady!
- If one of my friends touches something with one hand, she then has to touch it with the other hand to keep everything even. And believe me, everyone in her life has had to wait for her to stop, turn around and even herself out.
- And I know another person who diligently works at making sure no two foods on the plate touch.
So here’s the experiment: I challenge you to put your family to the test, and question what normal really is. The purpose of this exercise is to stop seeing labels as something that divides, and start seeing them as a way of illustrating how similar we really are.