Allow me to share a short example of how buying into a label, and its associated myths, can cause you to reinforce the limitations of the diagnosis:
I recently had a friend visiting. My son was super interested in her and extremely stressed by her at the same time. His mood shifted daily from up to down to up and down. The minute she left his whole body shivered into a relaxed state and he softly smiled to himself.
I was pointing out the difference in his emotional state and my grandson said, “That’s how we all feel when we like someone a lot, nervous and afraid of screwing up.” I agreed and we continued to put away the groceries.
The echo of how completely my family understands that autism is a thing getting in the way of a person’s showing how normal they are inside whistled in my head and made me smile.
My son handed me a bag of groceries and noticing the lack of diet coke said, “Miffff mouya freff.” I said, “I am sure you do miss her but it’s nice to have you calm again.” “Yeff,” he agreed.
I stopped attending to groceries and followed with a lesson, “By the way my only has one syllable. Try it ‘MY’ …..” I modeled.
And so it goes.
If we had believed he was stressed by the social aspect in a way that is autistic and so responded according to the myths, we may have supported him differently. We may have treated him as if his verbal approximations meant he doesn’t talk and ignored the feelings people say he doesn’t have. In fact, we might have told people it was too hard for him to have company so please don’t visit. We might also have said, “He doesn’t like to be touched.” and preventing the goodbye hug that made her smile.
Had we believed in the myths, he would have never had a friend to ‘mifff’.
Instead we celebrated the normal. We worked on the challenge of being understood. All while putting away food… his very favorite thing.
Something to think about!