Briefly, Regarding Labels

There have been some excellent posts lately on the issue of labels in general and the label “Autistic” specifically. You can find my two current  favorites here and here, as well as my previous post where I discuss labels.

Then, this morning I was reminded by this Tumblr post (I’m not sure how to embed it here, but please do click through and read it) that not everyone views labels the way I do. Some people see labels as predictors of what someone can or cannot successfully accomplish.

I see the Autistic label specifically as a tool for greater understanding – particularly for greater self understanding. I do not see “Autistic” as a means by which to limit someone’s options or as something that should define a person’s potential.

So, in much the same way as is expressed in the Tumblr post above, I have mixed feelings about being diagnosed late in life.

On the one hand I don’t particularly wish that I’d been diagnosed as a child because my family may very well have used that label to limit my options instead of to better understand who I was and what I needed.

Then again, I do wish that I’d personally had this understanding of myself much, much sooner than I did – possibly as a child, but certainly by late high school. If my parents had gotten me a diagnosis and then used the label to help me succeed then it would’ve been an overwhelmingly positive thing in my life to have known earlier.

In the end, there’s no way to know now how it would’ve been and there are overwhelming pros and cons either way.

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10 thoughts on “Briefly, Regarding Labels

  1. Absolutely.

    I often ponder when would have been the ideal moment for diagnosis. 18? 14? 10?

    It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago that attitudes were very different indeed. With no access to an online community, no sense of belonging, just of being different, how that could have been so much worse.

    I am very grateful that I now know. I very much regret not understanding myself earlier. And I do believe early diagnosis (now we have more understanding) is a good thing now. I hope that in the future it will be even easier for subsequent generations.

    Because of blogs like yours 💐

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! ❤ I hope that it will be easier in the future as well. Your blog certainly helped me through some rough patches this year! I hope mine will be similarly helpful for others 🙂

      I have also recently been thinking about when it would've been ideal to know for me. In the end, and despite still having mixed feelings, I think I found out at the right time.

      I desperately wish I could've somehow avoided the worst parts of my college experience with more self-awareness, but given how little support and information was even available online 4.5 years ago, it might not have helped all that much to find out 15+ years ago. You're so right that things have changed very recently.

      Also, what happened to me in college (and I will probably write about that at some point if I ever feel able to revisit it in the depth that would require), as horrific as it was to live through, is part of me. Those experiences helped shape me into who I am today, for better or worse, so I can't wish them away completely.

      I believe that early diagnosis now is mostly a positive thing. There are still problematic understandings floating around, but hopefully they will become less and less prevalent as more of us speak out!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I can relate so much to this! Because of the way my autism has manifested itself I think it’s unlikely I’d have ever been diagnosed as a child. And attitudes at that time would have been very different. But a diagnosis during high school at least would really have helped me understand myself so much better.

    My daughter’s actually due for her assessment in a fortnight’s time – we got the official letter today. I hope that if she’s diagnosed we can use it to support her to achieve her full potential and be st ease with herself, rather than making it self-limiting, but I guess we’ll have to see. At least I have personal insights I’ll be able to share with her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes a lot of sense. They weren’t looking for us then either and we didn’t look like the boys did. Aspergers as an official dx only came about when I was around 10 years old. By then I was a master at masking and was no longer in the school system.

      I strongly suspect that I would’ve received an ADD diagnosis (I believe that’s all under ADHD now) had my parents gotten me evaluated as a child.

      In college the possibility of Borderline was tossed around informally by my therapist. I was so broken at that point that BPD probably would’ve stuck with an evaluation, so I’m glad I avoided the quagmire of misdiagnosis at least. Current assessment contained no possibility of Borderline, so that’s thankfully done.

      I hope your daughter’s evaluation goes well! More information about oneself is always a good thing. The biggest challenge I’ve found is helping my daughter find helpful information and hoping it’ll be enough to counteract any of the toxic “autism parent” stuff she might run across in the future.

      With my formal dx I now feel more equipped to help on a personal level at least. She’s so much like I was at her age! ❤ Except she's more like how I really was… she appears to not feel the need to hide herself as much as I did.

      Liked by 1 person

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