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Why I Wanted to Erase My Son's Autism Label, but Now Embrace It

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I was challenged to write a piece about a word that I would erase. I chose the word “label” and here’s why:

There were always signs.
I didn’t want to see them.
I didn’t acknowledge them.
I didn’t want to admit that something was different.
I justified.
I enabled.
I made excuses.
I was scared.
Not of autism.
Looking back, I didn’t even know enough about autism to be scared of it.
The label was what I feared the most.
I vividly remember thinking that something isn’t right, but a label isn’t going to make anything better.
To me a label was failure.
It was a limitation.
It was closing the door on my son’s future.
It was giving up.
And it was this beautiful journey of autism that showed me how wrong I was.
Because that label saved us.
That label is something I am so proud of now.
That label got my son everything he needed and more.
That label took away his limitations.
It gave him a fighting chance.
That label created a glass ceiling that he shatters every day.
That label gave me the most amazing support system with other moms of children who received the same label.
The best decision I have ever made was making sure my son received the label of autism.
Coming to terms with the fact that the label will always be a part of our lives was a hard pill to swallow.
It’s still something that sometimes gets the best of me.
But in the quiet times of the hard, it’s something I couldn’t be more thankful for.
I think back to the mom I was at the beginning of the journey.
A journey she didn’t want to embrace.
A journey she didn’t even know she was on.
A journey she wanted to go away.
A journey she couldn’t imagine being part of her life.
A journey that would change her for all the right reasons.
That mom opened her heart to that label.
She made a decision to accept that label and everything that came with it.
The good
The bad
The pretty
The ugly
The setbacks
The victories
And that same mom that was so scared of that label, realizes now there was nothing to fear.
That mom now embraces that label.
That mom now loves that label.
Because that label was always there.
That label was always part of her son.
Intertwined in those signs she didn’t want to see.
In those signs she now sees and embraces because of that label.
Don’t fear the label, my friends, fear the life you would be missing out on without that label.
That label will always be part of what makes my son who he is.
That label will never determine what he can and cannot do.
But that label will always make me proud of anything we face and overcome.
I will always be thankful that the label of autism is a part of our lives.
And as for that mom starting on a journey, she never thought would be part of her life, I hope she’s just as proud of me as I am of my son.
We’ve both come such a long way since we received the label.
And together we will continue to walk over shattered glass.

Originally published: May 3, 2021
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