As moms, we tend to be a bit judgmental of each other's parenting. I don't know why--we just are. I did a post recently on this topic (see here).
So why am I tackling this topic yet again? For the simple reason that I couldn't come up with any other J words, and I think I can squeeze out some other points about how people can be judgmental. In this case, I'm going to blog about people being judgmental on the internet.
I've been lucky. I've been blogging since February 2010 and have had only one outright negative comment on my blog. That's amazing! I do get the occasional person who doesn't agree with my viewpoints and will respectfully say so. That's fine! I never mind difference of opinion--as long as it's respectfully stated.
There have been a few times where people have commented about not liking the whole idea of labels. I've also seen complaints about this on autism community boards. These folks are against parents getting their child assessed and label with a diagnosis such as autism, Asperger's, ADHD, gifted, or any other label. I think they feel it's demeaning for the child to have a label--that it negates who they are as a person. I think some people also see the label as a means to put their child on medication--to take away their individuality. To essentially not appreciate who their child is.
When I started this blog, it was important for me to celebrate the uniqueness that my daughter brings to the world. I'm very proud of her and everything she's accomplished. I'm sure my regular readers know this about me and the blog.
I also want to stress that no parent wants to put a label on their kid--they really don't. They do it as a means to get services. Without the label, you can't get help. The therapies needed for autism are extremely expensive and would be prohibitive for all but the very wealthy.
Why do we feel the need to pursue these therapies? Why do we not just accept our children for who they are and deal with our own issues? The answer is extremely simple: we want our children to be happy and to have as many opportunities available to them as possible.
Before we sought out a diagnosis for our daughter, she had extremely limited social interactions. She looked like she wanted to join other kids and play, but had no clue how to go about it. My daughter had huge tantrums if any kid even approached her, because she was afraid they'd take a toy she was playing with. She'd also have huge tantrums if she had to end an activity she didn't want to end. She'd have huge tantrums over things that didn't go her way. She spent a good chunk of her day tantrumming and miserable.
Flash forward 3 years: we had our daughter assessed. They psychologist put the autism label on her, which opened up the door to getting a year of behavior therapy after school and a behavior aide in school. My daughter is mainstreamed 100 percent and is excelling academically. Here's the really cool part: my daughter is more socially engaged and has succeeded in making many friends. She's great at sharing and shows empathy to her family and friends. She's learning to manage her emotions when things don't go her way and while she can still be quick to cry, she recovers very quickly. Tantrums are now extremely rare. We actually noticed huge improvements within the first year of behavior therapy.
None of these improvements would have happened without the label. Should we have just left our daughter alone to find her own path? I don't think so. My daughter is SO much happier than before. She still marches to her own drummer and maintains her wonderful quirkiness. But I now feel like she'll be able to lead a somewhat normal life. I feel she'll go to college and graduate school. She'll have friends and someday marry and have her own kids. The improvement in our lives has been nothing short of amazing!
For me, this is a no-brainer. But when I see those judgmental comments, criticizing me for labeling my daughter, I'm just left confused. Sorry if the labels offend you, but they serve a very vital purpose.
Deal with it!