Whats in a number?

by | Apr 27, 2023

“A good decision is based on knowledge not on numbers”.  Plato.

Parents learn quickly after being initiated into the world of autism that their child will soon be categorised by a number.  A level.  A category that will go with them throughout their life, allowing the world to define them, by that number, by what they are and are not capable of.

The numbers I’m referring to are the levels of how autistic your child is.  Is he or she a little bit autistic, that’s classified as level 1 also known as mild austim.  Then there is the middleground – you’re not a lot but you’re not a little bit either, that’s level 2 – moderate autism.  Then the lucky last is level 3.  This means your child has a lot of autism, also known as severe autism.

My point here is that these labels can be damaging to the child, and they are most certainly damaging to the parent.  The last time I checked I don’t have a note on my file that says that I am severely white or that I only have a little bit of grey hair.

The diagnosis that is handed out to the parent gives anyone who is looking at that child’s file a ‘snapshot’ of how autistic they are.  How can this be true for any human.  I have no doubt that some of the most brilliant minds on this planet have had bad days and do not live up what it says in their file as being ‘exceptional.’

As a parent of a newly diagnosed autistic child, that label, that grading, can leave you feeling sad, frustrated, angry and overwhelmed.  A piece of paper that defines what and how the world sees him or her.

On the opposite side of this coin are parents who can see that their child has autism and do not get a formal diagnosis for fear of wanting to label them.  Of boxing them into a place where they do not want them to be.  I can resonate with that as well.

To the parents reading this, please let me tell you that the grading, that level that is being written on that piece of paper is simply just that – a number.  Don’t let that number stop you from seeing your child, loving your child, and knowing that your child will make progress on their terms.  Don’t let that number define who you believe you are raising.  Your child, the one that sits before you is unique and special and holds the most amazing lessons for you and your family.  Trust your gut instinct not a number.

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