Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Problems of Labeling, Segregating, and Isolation

I've recently been in a lot of social situations with families or groups where there has been a kid with autism. Well, first off, I'm always surprised at how quickly everyone has been throwing out the "autism card" as I sometimes call it. It's like we just can't go to a social event and enjoy each others company without a parent or friend or neighbor coming right out and informing everyone there that this child has autism and so he/she must be excused for anything that may possibly happen that may be taken negatively.

And on another part, I have seen so often lately this kind of segregating or separating the "poor little autistic kid" away from the other kids as if he/she needs their own personal class, time, play area, etc.

Now most of all this is really non of my business, but it seems to me in the long run that these kids are being separated, segregated, and even isolated because of an autistic label.

I bet half of the people in any of these social situations wouldn't have thought twice about this kid having anything wrong with them unless the adults weren't out there shouting to the world about their kids' autism.

And it seems lately as if they are even giving the kid a reason to act up because the adults are right there announcing that they can't help themselves to behave.

Plus, why do they have to be separated from the other children? What is up with all this?

True, with MJ, I go right into any new school experience or teaching environment and set up an appointment to discuss his Asperger's. But I'm not doing it to excuse his actions or to get him separated from the rest of his class. I do it so the teacher can have a better understanding of certain reactions or habits, and so that they can be aware of any problems or misunderstandings that may happen. I mean, they are going to be directly working with him day in and day out, and it is important to go over certain things.

But, to everyone and anyone? I don't understand these people who go out there announcing to the world that "My child has autism!!!!" Not that we are in any way ashamed of the autistic label or Asperger's or anything, but I don't think it's fair to the kid to go out and shout his/her label to every man on earth.

Yes, if it is pertinent to a situation or environment then it is fine, but I don't think I need to go to MJ's school and tell each and every one of his peers and their parents that he has Asperger's and sorry for any misfortune that they may come across. It just seems too much.

MJ isn't dumb, and I know he doesn't want to be thought of as "the Aspie boy". My husband, although accepting of his Asperger's now, he isn't ashamed by it, but he doesn't broadcast it to everyone. He doesn't want to be treated differently and he doesn't want to be treated with "kid gloves" that sometimes happens to all these kids.

I've seen kids out there that may have Asperger's or parts of Autism that their family, friends, and neighbors seem to put on baby gloves and talk to them like babies, and expect only the absolute least of them and basically just let them get away with anything and excuse it to their label. I know some things can't be controlled, but I'm sure some of these kids take advantage of their extra leverage in freedom. And because of this label I've seen community classes and other groups allow these kids to have their own class or craft time or whatever because they need to be isolated to best help the child.

How does that help the child? All MJ wants is to be accepted and fit in a group of friends. Why would any kid really want to be separated and kept alone? I suppose I'm an advocate of the whole mainstreaming program in schools to allow kids to be with kids instead of themselves. Sure, it's good to be with other kids with disabilities, but they should be able to be with regular kids too, just the same way regular kids should see that everyone has their differences and be with kids with disabilities. There is a lot to be gained and shared by everyone.

OK, so I'm sorry if I've touched any nerves here. Everyone has their own points of views and this is just what it seems to me. Not everyone is parading their child out there with a sign around their neck saying "I have Autism", and I'm definitely not saying there is anything wrong with being autistic or an Aspie. I think there are so many wonderful qualities that come with my husband and sons for having those traits of autism and Asperger's. I just wonder sometimes if people are jumping on the bandwagon too soon to make their child stand out in a bad way.

I hope MJ grows and develops and becomes a successful adult. I hope that he makes it in life and figures out what works for him as far as his Asperger's. I know him knowing he has it and others knowing he has it can be helpful in many good ways as long as it is directed in a positive nature. I don't see having Asperger's as a disability. I see it more as having a different view on life and thinking. It isn't something to use as an excuse, but rather something to use as a better understanding of a person and to more easily accept them. I just hope MJ gets treated fairly in life and not with pity.

1 comment:

JudyAnn said...

Aspergers is a reason, but not an excuse. It's the reason I don't always respond the right way in a conversation, or act just like I'm expected to act but it's not an excuse for me to get away with saying or doing just anything.

I wasn't diagnosed until I was almost middle aged, so there was none of this keeping me away from other children because I was "special", and I feel that, although I suffered from hurt feelings a lot as a child I learned how to operate in society.

I'm really glad that I was not Labled, segregated and isolated and over protected as a child, because I'm not 56 years old, living alone and supporting myself. I work as a sales person in a hardware chain. It's hard, but I think it would have been much harder if I had not learned.