All of us have labels that we have given ourselves or someone else has given us.

Some labels are quite useful or overall welcoming: creative, kind, friendly, intelligent….and some are not as positive but can be equally useful: reserved, active, expressive, inquisitive, special (and I say these aren’t as positive because they are sometimes used to describe a frustrating experience). Some labels, though, can be very damaging: shy, destructive, drama queen, high maintenance.  Where do we get these labels? and why do we think they would be at all effective?

Labeling is also used in determining how we may describe someone or place them in a particular “box”, especially in the areas of special needs, fostering and adoption.  Autism, ADHD, RAD, OCD…these are all labels that we put on children to help us understand them better.  And they do help us…they do allow us to research certain areas of our children’s personalities, traits and behavior.  They help to categorize the disorder.

I think the trick though, is not to categorize the child.

Yes, these disorders are real and they affect children every day and cause us, as parents, to scratch our head and wonder why? or more importantly, how?  As in, How am I going to manage this?

I point that I am trying to make is that we don’t “manage” our children.  We support, encourage, facilitate and learn along side them, but we don’t attempt to manage them.  Think of a predominant label that has been placed on you….does it feel good or does it hurt?  I was an extremely shy child and that is the first label that comes to my mind.  I have spent years shedding that label and it is still there some 43 years into my life.  I would not want to place that label on my children, although when my son is reserved, others give him that label or my daughter is particularly dramatic, she gets that label.

Having a need to place a child or adult, for that matter into some kind of box is what our society does.  What I am asking is that we rethink that mode of communication.  If a child seems to be shy, offer a hand or love to that child instead of labeling them as shy.  Maybe they are overwhelmed socially…if so, get them out of the situation.

Nothing is more important than showing your child that their needs are important to you.

If a child is speaking loudly in public and they dismiss your attempts to speak quietly, they are sending you a message that they are overwhelmed.  Pay attention to that message.

Children who are labeled with a disability are most definitely put into a box, just remember that they are people.  And all people are not the same.  They have differences, have passions and have desires that are separate from us and separate from their disability.

My belief is that the label is only helpful in describing the disability, not the person.

The label can help understand the disability better, but you have to take time with the person, to get to know THEM better.  And it is SO worth your time.

I have literally spent a lifetime being around others with disabilities and those range from mild to severe, but the moments I was able to truly connect with them and see the passion that they have for life, were the most rewarding.  To see a child that everyone was written off as unteachable, read stories and write words that were beyond his skill level….wow, unbelievable.  And I believe that everyone has their WOW moments.  Tap into it…take the time…you WILL be rewarded.

And you will learn to rejoice in the small things.



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