Lately I’ve realized that there’s a big misconception about what labeling a child means. Many parents feel that accepting or sharing that their child has a diagnosis is putting a label on him. But the truth is that living with a diagnosis is not a label; it is a reality. If we learn to accept ourselves as people with strengths and limitations, we will be able to do the same with others. Perfection is an ideal that we build in our minds to keep working towards something, but it is not a realistic goal.
To label means to limit someone because of his condition, to underestimate someone’s abilities because of the way he looks or the diagnosis he has. From society it is calling our kids a specific name, like “the Downs,” “the r-word” or “the disabled”, but it also exists from parents and it is sometimes overprotecting and the other times living in denial instead of accepting that a diagnosis doesn’t define your child.
Overprotecting is a label that talks about lack of faith in the abilities of our kids. When you deprive your child from the opportunity to demonstrate his personal abilities, you are telling him that his efforts are not worthy and he cannot do it by himself. You are letting the diagnosis take over him. Remember that your child has a name and a unique personality, and that’s what defines him.
Labeling is also being so scared of accepting their child’s disability that they would rather avoid the issue and pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary. Avoiding a child’s diagnosis is also a really bad way of labeling. Disability is natural. Is not shameful, and it is not a label. It’s just a way of living.
Accepting a diagnosis with love and pride is how we learn every day from a child’s condition and discover the things that make him unique. It is celebrating his personal strengths and working on his weakness, not to fix them, but to teach him how important it is to keep fighting, learning and pursuing his dreams forever.
Accepting a diagnosis is also about being realistic and objective about the things that your child can do, and the things that he may not be able to accomplish. It’s about reflecting on our humanity and celebrating his abilities instead of forever mourning his physical or intellectual limitations.
Living and loving with a disability, or a person who has a disability, is finding new ways of celebrating life. It opens a big door in our minds to accept and welcome diversity. It is about setting aside our own prejudices and living lives filled with personal triumphs.
When you overcome your own fears and insecurities, you are not scared anymore of others. It’s not until we stop labeling and start accepting that we finally understand that there’s nothing wrong with living with a disability.