Have you noticed that most people don’t have much of an issue using labels such as “gifted” or “highly sensitive” or “deeply feeling kid”? And yet I hear a lot of pushback and discomfort when it comes to using actual diagnostic labels related to neurodivergence. And in my experience, it all comes down to stigma.
Making generalizations is an important part of human learning. A toddler learns one day that those things with four legs are called dogs. Then they over-generalize and think that a cat, which also has four legs, is a dog. Someone teaches them that no, this one is called a cat. And so on. Our brains are wired for generalizations. It’s how we learn.
But when over-generalization leads to stereotypes and stigmas, this is where we need to pump the brakes and rethink what we’ve been absorbing from media, from our past experiences, from our community.
Dive in with me as we take a closer look at the use of labels.
What you’ll hear in this episode:
- The kinds of labels people most often have trouble with
- My perspective on neurodivergent labels in particular as a pediatric occupational therapist
- The harm that avoiding neurodivergent labels can cause
- How useful and validating labels can be to many
- The unfortunate reasons why people avoid using labels
- Tips for addressing any ableist attitudes you may have absorbed
First of all, I want to make sure people understand that if using words like Autism and ADHD are uncomfortable for you, if you are realizing that you see these as negative and undesirable, I honestly do not blame you.
Many of us grew up in communities where these words were only uttered in whispers, where it felt like we weren’t allowed to talk about someone’s neurodivergence because it’s bad. And while I’ll call it out (this is ableist!), I also say that with a big dose of empathy because studies show we unconsciously absorb the attitudes of those around us.
What labels are we talking about?
Depending on who you ask, a label for a child can include any of the following:
- a child’s temperament (shy, defiant, spirited, stubborn)
- learning styles (visual learner, tactile learner)
- capabilities (talented, gifted)
- medical diagnoses (diabetic, food allergic)
- mental health and neurodiversity (generalized anxiety disorder, autism, OCD, ADHD, dyslexia)
What I find interesting and frustrating is that the only types of labels that people are hesitant to use, that have huge stigmas attached to them, are from the mental health and neurodiversity category.
As we continue, my operational definition of a label is going to be things that are diagnosed (like ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, etc) and more loose subcategories of labels that many identify with, like neurodivergent, disabled, highly sensitive, deeply feeling.
Pros of using labels
I’ll come out and say it: I don’t have a problem with labels. I do rely a lot on labels to help focus my consultations with families and use them at least as a starting point, NOT as a definitive, binary identity of a person. Here are some ways I think labels are useful and helpful:
- Reducing the stigma. I believe that using labels neutrally and accurately can help reduce the stigma that surrounds them. On the flip side, I believe that purposely avoiding using labels adds more stigma. When people think that these words are unmentionable, what are we saying about the people with these diagnoses, about their challenges and strengths, about their identities?
- Community and a sense of belonging. Of course not all Autistic people are the same or have the same challenges. But for parents of neurodivergent kids and for neurodivergent people themselves, finding someone with a similar diagnosis can be comforting and can be a basis for an empathetic community.
- Identity. It can mean the difference between feeling ashamed for who you are because you’re so different from others…to feeling proud because you’re not like others. Being able to claim your identity when things didn’t make sense for a long time can be incredibly powerful for many neurodivergent individuals.
- Effective strategies. There’s a lot of research and evidence that surrounds different diagnoses, and having that label, knowing your learning style, sensory profile, communication differences, etc., can be incredibly helpful in finding effective strategies and support.
- Accommodations and services. Having a diagnosis or label can open the doors for support. This can be in a practical sense as many insurance providers require a diagnosis in order to cover certain supports. In the day-to-day sense, a teacher may push back on a request for accommodations because the child “appears normal” (a topic for another day). But when we disclose an Autism diagnosis, for example, and explain that sitting in the front of the room helps with their nervous system regulation, the conversation may go differently.
- Shorthand that helps with understanding. A teacher who is prone to yelling may not respond to a student who says “you’re yelling is hard for me.” But if that student advocates for themselves using a label (“I’m Autistic and I have a really hard time with loud sounds. Your yelling is hard for me.”), that student may receive more understanding and compassion. Likewise when a parent describes their child simply as a “picky eater,” that may not garner as much compassion or accommodation than if a parent describes the child as “neurodivergent, and he has ARFID. New food is actually a threat to his nervous system.”
Cons of using labels
- Stereotyping or judgment. This is probably the biggest reason many people dislike or are uncomfortable using labels. Some parents think that telling the school that their child has ADHD will place a tag on that student, and parents fear that it will become their identity and shape their personal relationships, how teachers view them, etc. People are also aware of the incorrect stereotypes that certain diagnoses carry (all Autistic people avoid eye contact; all people with ADHD are hyperactive), and don’t want those inaccurately applied to their kids.
When I asked folks about this issue, I got two different responses about judgments and labels.
Some say, “Labels make others MORE judgmental of my child.”
Others said, “Labels help others be LESS judgmental of my child.”
Opposite effects. How can this happen? (Read on)
- Some think that labels are limiting. Some people say a certain label might prohibit progress or stop parents or caregivers or teachers from allowing a child to reach a certain potential with skills because of their label. And in the same vein, some people’s arguments against using a label is that kids change fast. If we label them too young, will they forever be seen this way?
- Self-fulfilling prophecy. People might think that if a child is given a diagnostic label, that this will be the only way they see themselves and how others will see them, and will determine how this child will grow up to be. We have to break this down. What about a self-fulfilling prophecy about a child being gifted? Does anyone have trouble with a child growing into that identity? The problem then is not about a person growing into an identity from a young age but about how we view Autistics, ADHDers and others. More on that below.
- The label is an excuse. Some may think people use labels to excuse someone’s behavior, that a child is going to “get away with” undesired behavior and won’t be responsible for their actions. I will not hold back my response to this: These are not excuses. These are explanations and reasons for a child’s behavior. If you think a neurodivergent label is an excuse, you are coming from a privileged, ableist perspective and need to do some reflection.
- The mic drop. And finally, here’s what I’ve been teasing all along. An Instagram follower left this powerful thought for me, and I have to highlight it because it encapsulates the spirit behind all of these “cons” of using labels. Here it is, so you won’t miss it:
It’s not the label.
It’s the stigma that uneducated people have
with those labels.
Read it again.
It’s not the label, it’s the stigma
I believe this wholeheartedly. And I believe that without the presence of the stigma, the items in the cons list would disappear. I believe that all of these cons stem from two sources:
- People have a hard time with labels because they don’t have the proper education or full understanding of the label to begin with. Maybe there are unaddressed assumptions there (i.e., stigma).
- People have a hard time with labels because of their own internal issues or struggles that make them feel uncomfortable with viewing their loved one or child through the lens of a label (again, the role of stigma is big here).
Let’s drive the point home, shall we?
We might hear a parent say this: “I’m afraid this label is going to follow my child around forever.” Unfortunate, but possibly understandable.
And now, picture this parent talking to an Autistic adult: “I’m afraid this label is going to follow my child around forever.”
It hits differently. You might even say that this phrase is insulting to the Autistic adult. I doubt that many–or any–of you would say this to an Autistic adult. Because we would be insinuating this label is bad, diagnoses are scary, and we don’t want our kids to be like you.
But remember, I am not judging anyone who feels this way. Again, many of us grew up surrounded by ableist attitudes, fear of neurodivergence, the idea that neurodivergence is bad. We absorb that unconsciously. But it’s what we do about it that matters so much more.
Here’s my not-so-secret tip to any of you who are struggling with this line of thinking.
Talk to neurodivergent adults.
It’s really that simple. Talk to Autistic adults, ADHD adults, talk to anyone who has your child’s “label” and spend some time learning about their lifestyle, about them.
When you see that neurodivergent adults are people who have values, priorities, strengths, challenges, love, occupations, a multidimensional life… it’s less scary.
When you can take on a neurodiverse-affirming perspective, you’ll see that labels aren’t as harmful as you think they are.
I highly recommend the resources and Instagram pages of actually neurodivergent folks below.
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
- Neurodivergent Rebel on Instagram
- neurowild_ on Instagram
- neuroclastic on Instagram
- nigh.functioning.autism on Instagram
- neurodivergent_lou on Instagram
Laura Petix 0:00 But here’s one thing that I found interesting, I noticed that like the most uproar, the biggest backlash and pushback and discomfort when it comes to a label. It’s always related to neurodiversity, or a disability. Like, no one complains or pushes back. If you were to say your child is gifted, no one pushes back if I called your child neurotypical, only labels around mental health or neurodiversity are the ones being stigmatized. Welcome to the sensory wise solutions podcast for parents, where parents can get real actionable strategies to support kids with sensory processing disorder. I’m Laura, OT and mom to Lilyana, a sensory sensitive kid who inherited my anxiety and my love for all things, Disney. Consider me your new Oh, T mom, bestie. I know my stuff. But I also know what it’s really like in the trenches of parenting a child with sensory processing disorder. Speaker 1 1:01 Okay, mom, enough about me. Let’s try the podcast. Laura Petix 1:07 All right, here we go. This is going to be a good one. This is one of the most nuanced topics, I feel like I say that every single episode, but really, when we’re talking about parents, and kids, it is nuanced. It’s not black and white. And on social media, things can be taken out of context. And so you always have to overly Explain yourself. And that’s why I like opening, like respectful debates and conversations about both sides of a topic. And it really inspires me to have these more. What is this like more long form content to talk it out. So we’ve been having a lot of conversations lately around the use of labels in childhood and adulthood as well and what that can do for a person and the pros and the cons of it. I’m going to link some related episodes that I’ve recorded recently that would complement this. One was on my own identity as a neurodivergent person. And another was the roundtable discussion I did on neurodiversity as a movement. So those were episodes, 89, and 90. So check them out, I will also link them below. So I want to just take the time now to really really call this out. This is, like I said, a deeply complicated topic, when it’s one of those two things are true, but it’s more like multiple things are true at once. There’s a lot of emotions that go into this topic. And while I might get very passionate and heated about the way I describe some things later, I want you to know at my true core, it should go without saying but I know I need to say this, I am not here to judge you, I am not here to shame you or call anyone out for your own opinions and your own feelings about this topic. Because I know again, it comes with our own history of how we think about this topic or our own experiences with our kids who are neurodivergent. And what we’ve seen them go through based on certain interactions. So if at any point you feel triggered, like I’m personally attacking you, I promise that is not my intent. This is also my podcast, and I try it to be somewhat less scripted, and where I can share my own opinion. And you can see where I’m coming from. But I’m going to call it out now I might say some things or phrase something in a certain way that might maybe make you feel uncomfortable if you if we have differing opinions on this. And that’s okay. I welcome that. And as long as everyone is respectful, but my my, my one and only objective for this episode is not to change your mind. If you think the opposite of me. It’s really to create space and an open dialogue to explore and get people to understand why labels are used. And what’s at the root of it when people are avoiding the labels because I’m going to leave you with a really important question or scenario to think about at the end of this that might lead you to other questions and might lead you to rethinking labels as a whole. So it’s goes without saying I think many of you may know my stance on this topic already. And if not now, you will definitely know by the end of the episode. But I find labels to be more helpful than hurtful and I’m not saying they are always helpful. But in general, I do not have a problem with labels. So that’s that’s my opinion. All right, so let’s start out I guess by just talking about what we consider to be labels. And what I’m thinking about for labels as we like, as the context to this episode. So I’m going to be honest, as someone that’s within the healthcare system, even though I don’t practice within a medical setting, but I’ve, you know, occupational therapy is within the healthcare system. I never truly understood the issue with using diagnoses. I always thought, thought in the past sense, because I can see it’s nuanced now. But before I even thought about this, if you asked me, I always thought that diagnoses were nothing but helpful. As I became a parent, and a more seasoned therapist, I could start to see and understand where parents are coming from in terms of their hesitation with how public that their child’s diagnosis like information was, so I started to see that. But then, even outside of the clinic as I started to create content on social media around neurodiversity, and calling out not only not only specific diagnoses, like SPD and autism, but just overall talking about like sensory profiles of kids. And descriptors and traits of neurodivergent kids, I started getting comments like, why do we have to put a label on this? Why can’t kids just be kids? And it gave me it gave me pause? I remember thinking, because one of the posts was like, I think I was like listing, you know, if your child does this, this is this, this they may be sensory sensitive, check the caption to find out ways to support them. And I remember seeing a comment that’s like, Why do you always have to put a label on kids? Why can’t like all kids do this? Why can’t kids just be kids? I don’t remember I remember thinking like, Ha, like, is saying your kid is a sensory seeker or sensory avoider, labeling them. To me those words, felt just like descriptions of patterns of behavior. I didn’t even realize some of the ways in which I described kids and their challenges were being perceived as a label by some parents and probably even like non parents. So that kind of gave me pause. But I recently put up a box in my Instagram stories, and asked parents to submit things that they considered labels like what do you what are the labels out there that you hear often? In regards to kids? There were a few that were submitted that were very specific diagnoses like ADHD, autism, OCD, just true diagnostic labels. But then there were like less specific labels that ranged more from personality traits, to learning styles to behavior patterns to just like, emotions. So people submitted things like bad kids neurodivergent shy kids defiant, challenging, naughty, spirited, sensory issues, sensory avoider, deeply feeling kid, highly sensitive kid rigid. And then I thought, like, am I just being, like, stuck with semantics here, but I feel like those aren’t really labels. Maybe in my head, I just I can see a diagnosis equal label, but like some of these just feel like describing like behaviors and challenges. But here’s one thing that I found interesting. I noticed that like the most uproar, the biggest backlash and pushback and discomfort when it comes to a label. It’s always related to neurodiversity, or a disability, like, no one complains or pushes back. If you were to say your child is gifted. No one pushes back if I called your child neurotypical, no one considers medical diagnoses as labels. Only labels around mental health or neurodiversity are the ones being stigmatized. For some reason. People are more likely to accept and feel comfortable with calling their child highly sensitive, or deeply feeling. But neuro divergent. Seems like labeling But aren’t those all labels? So when I consult with families, who are at the beginning of their journey, and may be hesitant to talk about diagnosis or labels. I always say, you know, whether your child is autistic or has SPD or maybe no specific diagnosis, we can agree that your child is differently wired, quote, unquote, which is neurodivergent. Literally, the definition of neurodivergent is differently wired. So we can agree that your child is differently wired slash neurodivergent. And they have a brain and nervous system that requires a different approach than the mainstream parenting tips for neurotypical kids. And that’s really how we start the conversation. And that’s really how I start destigmatizing the word neurodivergent. by just defining what it means, I think there’s just a mis understanding of what the term neurodivergent means. And there’s a lot of these little side labels and descriptive labels like highly sensitive and deeply feeling and spirited, and all of those things that really are just leading the way to neuro divergent, but for some reason. Neuro divergent, has a more negative connotation, while the others are more widely accepted. But I really think that neurodivergent is just as neutral of a label as those other ones that I talked about. But they’re all labels. Something just really, really important to think about. So for the rest of this episode, my operational definition of a label, like what we’re going to think about are things that are diagnosed, let’s just go with that ADHD, autism, anxiety, OCD, sensory processing disorder, and maybe even more loose subcategories of labels that many identify with. So things like neurodivergent, disabled, highly sensitive, deeply feeling, I’m not going to go I’m not what I’m about to say, is not taking into consideration other labels. I’m putting labels in quotes, like shy kid. What else was there shy, naughty spirited, I’m not thinking about that I’m thinking more of highly sensitive, deeply feeling ADHD, autism, anxiety, SPD neurodivergent. That’s what I’m thinking of, as I lay out the rest of this episode. So let’s just jump into pros and cons of using labels. And I put up a question box of this an Instagram. And so some of this is pulled from Instagram, a lot of it was already kind of the way that I thought about labels. So it’s great to see that other people are thinking about this conversation in the same light, as well. So as I mentioned at the beginning, we’re going to start with pros. But as I mentioned, at the beginning, I don’t I don’t really have a huge problem with labels. I’m not going around town with a figurative like label maker and typing out labels and sticking them on every single kid’s forehead. But I do rely a lot on labels to help focus my consultations with families and use them at least as a starting point, not as a definitive, like binary identity of a person and saying like, this is your label. And I’m only going to see this part of you, which is I think the fear of it. Right. So let’s talk about pros of using labels. The first pro of using a label is actually a con of not using a label. So let me rephrase that when you are not using a label when you are actively avoiding use using a label and say like, I don’t want to label my child. I don’t want to even consider this for them. When you avoid using labels and say I don’t like labels, you are adding more stigma to labels than there was to begin with. The more we avoid or whisper or hush hush labels are different. Oh, don’t say that. Don’t say that. We’re not going to label this or autism or disability. We’re just there to younger son. Let’s not label him. We are adding to the stigma. So just call it what it is. The more you avoid calling something out the more you make that thing more powerful. Another pro, of using a label is that it provides the parents the family the person with a sense of belonging and community like wow, there are other parents who go through this too, or while there are other kids who feel like this to think of a time that you were scrolling on Instagram or Tik Tok. And you saw a meme some like funny, you know, real or video of someone playing out a pain point of yours like something that was intended to be funny. And you see 10s of 1000s of likes and comments and you’re like wait, oh my god, other people feel this way too. I didn’t know that this was a thing. It was such a small thing that I thought I was the only way that felt this way. But wait, there are this many people who feel that way to that feeling of feeling connected and seen and having a sense of there’s other people in the world like me, that feeling we want to give to our kids way earlier than when they’re adults scrolling on social media and have gone their whole life wondering why they feel this way. So we can become part of a community as parents to neurodivergent kids, and we can create a community around our kids around our neurodivergent kids with other neurodivergent kids. But you can only do that if you agree to be open to a label, and I’m using neurodivergent as an example. But this could be any other label. Labels can also provide identity. So it can mean it can mean the difference of feeling ashamed for who you are, because you’re not like others, to feeling proud and confident about who you are. Because you’re not like others. Like it’s just switching the way that you think about it when you have a sense of identity. And this is who I am not, there is something wrong with me. That’s huge. Another pro is that it leads you, the caregiver, the parent, to more effective strategies. There’s a lot of different research and therapies and evidence that surround different kinds of diagnoses and labels. And there’s books and experts on these topics. So having an answer and particular path to go down is what can help you find more effective strategies. And you know, or at least will be able to think of a particular person or therapy in mind for you to look into or strategies to look into or strategies to avoid. So that it’s essentially saving you time. And you’re not just going down every single rabbit hole of like trying to go down the literature of every single parenting approach out there. Because when you have a label or something narrow to focus on, it becomes clearer. Another pro is that it opens doors for accommodations or services, or makes you feel or your child feel, quote, deserving of support. So when I say deserving of support, I mean, neuro diverse neurodiversity, and some disabilities are invisible diagnoses. And some people might think that your child doesn’t need an accommodation because they quote look normal, whatever that even means that phrase is loaded in and of itself. But people think that so when you say no, you know, my child is autistic, or my child has ADHD, and they need to be able to sit near the front, in order to properly process the sound, and engage with the show, whatever it is, I’m not just like saying they’re gonna cry, if they’re not in the front row like this is I need to accommodate my child. So being able to use those labels will help, will help providing them with accommodations and supports, feel a little bit more quote, deserving or worthy. Again, these are words of other parents. And it also opens the doors for a comment for other services, right. So some therapies and services need you to have some sort of diagnosis or label to begin with, so and sort of on that topic or tip. Having labels can help others understand and be more compassionate around behaviors. And it makes it quicker to really get to that point. So if you’re describing, you know, your needs to a caregiver, to a babysitter to a nanny to a preschool teacher, yes, you want to definitely not just like say, My child Autistics, when they need support, you want to be able to talk about their behaviors and in areas of challenge and things that motivate them and talk about them as a whole child and not just their label. But sometimes, you need to quickly get the point across, hey, we signed up for your class today on out school, and my child loves drawing her special interest. And she’s also autistic, so she can get really stuck on certain points. And so we’ve already talked ahead of time, and this is blah, blah, blah, right? Like, it just helps you quickly advocate with people that you may not have the whole time to provide them with your child’s like history of development, and all of those things. So it can help in those instances. Right. It could also be something like when you’re around family members, and they and instead of saying, You know what? He’s He’s a picky eater, so we have to get a McDonald’s, or he really just needs his iPad to stay right laid out. So if that’s all you’re saying, you might get stares or misinformed comments like, Oh, you just spoil him so much or like, wow, it must be nice to be him, he gets away with everything. Versus if you said something like, yeah, you know what he’s neurodivergent, he has arfid, he’s autistic and new food is actually a threat to his nervous system and cause really intense stress responses in his body. They’re probably going to argue less with that, whether or not they agree with it, but there’s not really much they can say, to argue against that point. And if they do, then you can go back to my episode before this, where I help you give some good responses to in the moment. judgy comments from from people. Okay, so those are like the main pros of using labels. Of course, this is a nuanced topic. It’s not all just one or the other, you have to use this case by case. So there are some cons or some concerns, I’ll say about using labels. But again, listen to the very end of this, because I’m going to leave you with a question that makes you think about why you think using labels as a con to begin with. And it might just be like an idealistic view of this. But it’s really something that I hope that you can take from this and help you just reflect. So one of the biggest or biggest concern, and most repeated response, when I asked parents why what they don’t like about using labels is the stereotyping or judgment. So it’s the concern that labels automatically places a tag on a person, and then that becomes their entire identity. And it will affect their personal relationships, and how teachers view them or family members view them. And also the fact that certain diagnoses and certain neuro types are really nuanced in and of themselves, like, not all autistic individuals avoid eye contact. Not all people with ADHD are hyperactive. So they worry that people will miss judge them based on what they know about that label. And so I think this comes up a lot for parents, and then wanting to best advocate for their child with their teacher. And the parent wants to avoid labeling a child because they think that it will affect the teacher’s perception of that child. But you know, what’s really interesting? I in that Instagram box that I shared, where people could put pros or cons. A lot of people said labels, make others be more judgmental of your child because of the label. But then in the pro section, a lot of people said labels help others be less judgmental of your child because they’re aware of a label. I just thought that was so interesting that one person might see it in this light and another in a different way. Right. So fascinating to me. Okay. Another concern that people shared about using labels is that it feels limiting. So they’re concerned that a certain label, put puts kids in a box, and might prohibit progress, or stop parents or caregivers or teachers from allowing a child to reach a certain potential with those skills because of their label. So like saying, Oh, well, you know, they’re autistic. So they’re never going to be able to do this, or you just don’t even put them in certain opportunities or environments that would allow them to grow because you think they can’t really do anything, because of a certain label. And sort of similar to that, that is one that I got a lot is that the idea for when we’re talking about really young kids and people say kids change fast if we label them too young? Will they be forever seen this way? Another concern that people shared was the idea of the self fulfilling prophecy. So if they are labeled as this, then that’s the only way that they will see themselves and then they will, like, enhance or act that way on purpose, or really as a, quote, self fulfilling prophecy. But again, I’ve I really feel like this and the the other one about about the diagnosis being labeled a limiting. I think this can change a lot based on how the parents take control over this narrative from the beginning, and spend time learning how to be neurodiverse affirming and to really advocate again, I hate that this that the burden always goes on the neurodiverse on the neurodivergent family, to be the ones to advocate and to be the agent of change. In the environment, when really it should be neurotypical people in the community taking the time to learn that there are other ways to be. But But if your child has a certain label or diagnosis, it doesn’t mean that it has to be limiting. You can try to at least within your local community, your nuclear family, your friends, your family, your child’s teacher in school, you can still try at least to help them see that this is just one part of your child. And it does not mean that it’s everything about your child. But I do I do see this concern a lot. I also hear this the self fulfilling prophecy thing I see I see online a lot in the context of self diagnosed or late diagnosed adults. I’ve heard them say that people make comments like, it’s really strange how now that you’re diagnosed autistic, suddenly, you seem more autistic than you ever were. Like, they’re sort of insinuating that the adult autistic individual is like exaggerating their traits or really leaning into the diagnosis. But really, you know what it is, it’s like, these people have finally found they finally have an understanding of who they are, and why they’ve been this way for all their life without having an explanation before. And now that they have an explanation. And they have an understanding that masking is actually harmful, then, now, they’re realizing it’s freeing and liberating to be able to just be themselves unapologetically. And I think that that’s what we’re seeing, we’re not seeing them leaning into or exaggerating any trades, they’re just not hiding them anymore. And is that so bad? I also have a hard time with this idea about the self fulfilling prophecy, because what I really hear is people saying, I don’t want my child to live up to the self fulfilling prophecy of something negative, like autism, or ADHD or anxiety. Because if it were the self fulfilling prophecy of something positive, or good, you wouldn’t care. So what is that saying about how we view autistic individuals, people with ADHD and others? Another concern is that well, this is the last concern, I’m going to list out. People are concerned that that labels are going to be used as an excuse. So using the label as an excuse for behavior or to get away with things rather than being responsible for their actions or behaviors. And my argument is that these aren’t excuses. They’re explanations. These are reasons. And if you think that these are excuses, then maybe you’re coming from a privileged ableist perspective and may need to do some reflection. So I’m going to end here with some reflection points, a really, really, really important viewpoint that came in in the question box. And it’s something that I was thinking, and they just phrased it in a better way. And this one, I really need this to stand out. So make sure you can listen, you can hear this. This one drives the point home, in the box, where I asked people to write what are the cons or concerns around using labels someone wrote in? It’s not the label. It’s the stigma uneducated people have with those labels. I need that to sink in. It’s not the label. It’s the stigma uneducated people have with those labels. And wow, I agree with this wholeheartedly. That’s exactly what the issue is. I think that the people who have a hard time with labels don’t have the proper education, or full understanding of the label to begin with. Like, they don’t really understand what it means to be neurodivergent. And they’re already making assumptions about it. And I’m not just talking about education, like going to school and learning about neurodiversity. I’m talking about just experience around being just experiences with neurodivergent individuals. And so maybe you have only negative experiences around neurodivergent people, maybe your experiences around neurodivergent people were colored in a negative way, by media, by the way, other people talked about it and you kind of have that absorbed in your brain, not saying that it’s your fault. But really, there is an element of a true just not understanding a true ignorance around what it means to be neurodivergent, or what it means to be any sort of label that you might be afraid of. It’s it also calls out the fact that maybe people who don’t like using labels have their own internal struggles. That make you feel triggered or uncomfortable with viewing your loved one or child through the lens of a label. Again, probably because of your thinking of one child or one person from your past or in a movie, or something that you saw or was around. That makes you think that that label is negative. And I hear this happen a lot with parents of young kids or toddlers or preschool age when parents get a recommendation or a suggestion to look into autism, or some other assessment for a label or diagnosis. And they say, oh, no, no, my child’s just too young, I really don’t want to label them this young. Or I just don’t want this label to follow my child around forever. And here’s where I turn this around for you or help you think about this in another way. And I I putting this in the context of young kids and toddlers and preschool, but what at any age, if you have ever thought or worried I’m afraid this label is going to follow around my child forever. I don’t want to label them. Let’s say you’re worried about an autism diagnosis. If the person you were talking to was an autistic adult, would you say them say to their face. I’m just afraid this label is going to follow my child around forever. I’m really scared for my child to be labeled as autistic. I doubt many, if any of you would say that to someone who is autistic. Because this thinking is really insinuating that labels are bad. Autism is bad diagnoses are scary. And we don’t want our kids to be like that. So here’s my secret tip. To help you if any of you are struggling with this thinking because I do want to make it clear and stress again, I’m not judging you. These fears are normal. And they’re inherent within us because no one taught us or talk to us when we were kids. And when we were growing up. Unless you were listening to this podcast or actually listening to the conversations online. You could go your whole life thinking that autism is this terrible thing or OCD is this terrible thing. And neurodiversity is something to like not even think about like, you could go your whole life thinking that way if you were never taught otherwise. So I completely get why a lot of parents are here. But here’s my tip. Talk to neurodivergent adults talk to autistic adults, ADHD adults, talk to anyone who has your child’s quote, label or diagnosis, who’s an adult and spend some time learning about their lifestyle? Learn from neurodivergent voices when you understand it more, I promise you it’s less scary. When you are more neurodiverse affirming. labels aren’t as harmful as you think they are. Alright, that’s the end of this episode. I hope that this gave you some things to think about. Maybe some self reflection things. Let me know what you thought about this. Send me a message on Instagram share this episode if you found it was helpful and keep having these conversations. I’ll see you next week. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider rating it and leaving a review which helps other parents find me as well. Want to learn more from me. I share tons more over on Instagram at the OT butterfly. See you next time. Transcribed by https://otter.ai