Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Children are NOT Soup Cans

In the past couple of weeks there has been a surge in articles about children being labeled. It least it seems like a surge to me. The LA Times, The Washington Post and an Australian newspaper all published stories about special needs children and their "labels" this week. With each new story I became more and more irritated with the word label. Here's why:

My children aren't soup cans, they don't have labels. My children with atypical neurology have DIAGNOSIS'S. In my world there is an enormous chasm between those two words. My children don't walk around with their nutritional value or calorie amount plastered on them. Not one of them have a bar code on their body.

The media outlets have worked very hard lately to make the general public believe that parents raising children with autism and ADHD are consummate scammers who spend their time finding doctors who will make bogus diagnosis's and prescribe a variety of unnecessary medications, demanding services from schools that their child doesn't truly need and, let's not forget, milking the system for SSI payments and medical/psychological services.  And after impugning the character and questioning the motives of parents they've never met or spoken with, they have the audacity to call parents to task for LABELING their child(ren)?! In the words of my 12 year old, the media can bite me.

My son who has a diagnosis of ADHD was privately tested, to the tune of $2,600, when he was in first grade. He attended a private school, so we elected to pay for testing rather than wait for the school to arrange testing through the public school. I'm pretty sure his teacher would have placed him in the front of the room, near her desk if I had known to ask. Yep, that was the big ole payoff from school he got for 6 hours of evaluations and we got for paying more than $2000. Would I go back and change it - HELL TO THE NO! We learned how to help him learn, we learned how to help him manage his "ants in his pants" and we learned how to help him become more organized. Worth every penny. (Don't worry taxpayers, he has, nor has ever had, special services, extra time on tests or anything that costs you a dime. You can sleep easy now.)

Let me tell you, child birth was easier than getting a diagnosis for my 12 year old son with Asperger's syndrome. I began talking to his doctor when he was 15 months old about behaviors and expressing concern over how rigid he was in routines and play. At six he was in counseling with a psychologist for anxiety. When his behaviors continued to worsen both at home and at school our pediatrician referred him to a pediatric neurologist who said that he had obsessive compulsive disorder to such a degree that any other issues couldn't be identified until that was under some kind of control. After three years of seeing therapists, pediatricians and a neurologist he was medically diagnosed as having Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism.Then we got to enjoy the nearly year long battle to have him evaluated by the school system for an autism spectrum disorder. Remember, a child doesn't receive services at school until they have an EDUCATIONAL diagnosis. Does any of this sound like a walk in the park to you? Like I had doctors and a school system tripping over each other to "label" my child?

I readily admit that Little Man's diagnosis was easy. When you're taking a pre-school aged child with you to big brother's IEP meetings, behavior intervention plan meetings and functional behavior analysis meetings he becomes well known. When he spends those hours under a table squeezing himself into the tiny space between chair legs, won't make eye contact while speaking to familiar people and has meltdowns when his nap and snack routine has been altered by these meetings the autism consultant notices. So yes, he was "the easy one" in terms of being diagnosed.

My boys have diagnosis's that have then led us to the resources that will help them become independent, self sufficient adults. And guess what? A LOT of those resources have been books I've read, internet research I've conducted and advice from other parents who have the same issues at home and school. So again, do not lose any sleep members of the media and taxpayers, you paid for none of that and it didn't affect YOUR life in any manner.

I don't walk into your office and slap a label on you of ignorant, uneducated or uninformed, please show my children the same respect. Should ignorant, uneducated or uninformed ever become diagnostically possible, I will be sure to refer you to one of the specialists we know. 


  1. I'm glad you wrote this, I am still angry about those LAT articles.

  2. I absolutely 100% agree with you. The people labeling the kids have no clue.


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