Hi, This is Autism.

A long time ago, back when Ro first got his diagnosis, I almost made matching shirts for us both, emblazoned with that bold statement.

Yes, this is me going back to the same old argument about labels, but I have new thoughts almost every day on this subject, so I must shaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeee with you! lol

Last week, one of my big sisters, The Tray, who just happens to have a 12 year-old daughter who is diagnosed “aspergers” was chatting with a fellow school parent about mundane kid issues.  

The Tray mentioned something about my niece’s aspergers, to which the parent replied, “AUTISM!!!  I didn’t know she had AUTISM???  Why didn’t you ever tell us??!!!!”

The Tray, being The Tray, replied, “Well, I haven’t needed to tell you about her diagnosis thus far…would you like me to tell you her bra size, because that’s pretty much equal information divulging???!!” 

Okay, maybe it didn’t go down like that verbatim, but knowing The Tray, that’s how I imagine it, and I bet it’s pretty close.

Anyaut, this brings me back to my constant contemplation of label etiquette. 

I don’t introduce my son as, “Hi, this is Ronan.  He’s six, and he has AUTISM!!!  AUTISM!!!  AUTISM!!!

Why does Mama need to share that on the first date?  It’s not like you will need a HAZMAT team to come and diffuse him!  I can see my need for divulging diagnoses if you are a therapist that needs to work with him, or if he does something inappropriate socially that may make someone offended. 

But really, do I need to announce this upon meeting new people every time?  Why not say, “This is Ronan, his IQ is over  140 and he can recite all the states and capitals in 40 seconds or less!”  Or why not share, “This is Ro, and he hates helicopters, but he can add and subtract far beyond his years!  Isn’t that special?!”

 It’s a tough road to navigate. 

I was talking to a mother last week who has a child that goes to school with mine, and she just couldn’t get past how he seemed “different” from all of the other kids his age.  She was just so embarrassed by all of his behaviors, and she had such a hard time with his uniqueness. 

Look, I don’t want my kid to misread “social cues”, in fact, he’s taking special courses and incorporating “social education” into his therapy schedule every day, but what I don’t want, what I worry about sacrificing, is his individuality – his strengths, his admirable qualities – his fabulousness…

Does that, should that,  need to be sacrificed with the “autism” label?

To that Mom that worries about her boy being so “different” –  will your child resent you for really wishing he fit into a round peg when he is square all along???

I thought her child was lovely.

I think my child is lovely.

I think my niece is lovely.

Sometimes, even though I know he needs to learn a different way, even though I know it carries pain, I think AUTISM is lovely.

I don’ t love that he has hurt… what Mama does?  But I love my child with AUTISM.  

Label or not. 

That means nothing.

And he means everything.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Auntie
    Mar 31, 2009 @ 01:28:25

    He is a friggen tasty little treat though…. Isn’t he!


  2. Meredith
    Sep 26, 2009 @ 02:38:24

    Thank you Robin for sharing your story. It so wonderful of you and your sister to share with everyone.


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