Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fozzie and Julia...My Perspective.

A friend of mine tagged me in this article {LINK}. Someone with a high functioning older son on the spectrum wrote about how she thinks Fozzie might be autistic, but he's accepted as just "himself" because he wasn't labelled. A lot like her son. And it was published in the NEW YORK TIMES, obviously a well known and widespread publication, which instantly gives her words more weight.

Something about this blog post really bugged me..."would we have thought of Fozzie differently if we'd been told he had autism? Maybe."

That's wonderful that your son is on the spectrum but easily passes as "a typical quirky teenager". Truly. That's fantastic. And it's nice that Fozzie has so many quirks but is able to just be Fozzie because no one "labelled" him.

photo from NYT article

BUT...That's ONE end of the spectrum. And stories like this set children like mine BACK because mainstream people that only have experience with neurotypical children read stuff like this and think "see? autism is just a bunch of quirks! We should just treat these kids like they're *normal*, not label them, and everything will work out. The label is damaging."

Nope. Label or not, my son cannot yet speak. Label or not, my son has very large difficulties with sensory overload, coordination, and social connections. And whether or not anyone knows he has autism, he can't exactly be described as "just a quirky kid".

It's tricky to have ONE character (like Julia) represent such a wide range of symptoms as those associated with autism. It IS a spectrum, after all. But the fact that we ARE labeling her and introducing her to neurotypical children so that they are prepared to try relate to kids like my son is a HUGE step in the right direction, IMO.

My point? Don't be afraid of a label. Also, it's not okay to print things like this (talking to you, New York Times) without offering a "flip side" to open a dialogue and truly represent the SPECTRUM that is autism.

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