We postponed getting a diagnosis for B because he was already getting therapy. We were on our first of many wait lists to be seen for that purpose. Labeling him didn't change who he was to us. He was our quirky, crazy little boy. He had differences, but we all do. Getting the diagnosis didn't change him, not much will. We aren't trying to cure him. We aren't trying to make him fit into society, although sometimes it would be nice. It was just something we had to do. Another step in the process.
One of the main reasons we postponed diagnosis is because we didn't want people to judge him based on that word. Autism. It means so many different things to everyone. And generally, when people find out he has the diagnosis, I get "oh my cousins' friend's sisters' kid has that" or something of the sorts. Which is great. I want EVERYONE to know what autism is. But I also want everyone to know that autism isn't what defines B.
I don't like the word "autistic". You won't offend me if you say it, unless you use it in a derogatory way, but I don't like it. He has autism. He also has 6 year old, and avid reader, and math enthusiasm. He also has love of dogs and the outdoors. These things are all a part of him. And autism is one of these things.
Most of the time when people approach me in public it's a good thing. To compliment the kids on acting well, which is a rarity, or to offer a word of wisdom/advice. Well meaning mostly. But there are a few who just don't get it. And the funnier thing is they often don't get it when he isn't having anything to do with autism, he's just being a kid. Oh how their world would change if they saw the autism.
Some people are scared. They don't want to offend me, you can't short of just being a huge jackass and in that case I don't want to be friends anyways. They don't know how to talk to him, or if they should. And this feeling isn't reserved for strangers. Family and friends, often well meaning, don't know what to do or think. A lot of people ask me things they should be directing to him. We spent lots of money getting that child to talk so ask him all the questions we can.
Some people feel sad for him and his future. I have had people tell me this. And to them I say... we are too. But not in the sense that they think. I worry about all of my kids equally. The future is scary for them all. I don't think about his limitations. Right now we are worried with what he can do and building on that. And, in my opinion, his future is very bright.
And then there are those that treat him like they would any of my kids. And I like these people. I don't know that this is the right approach for everyone, but it has worked so far for us. And until it stops working, or we find some better way, this will be the way I hope everyone can come to.
He's a pretty awesome kid. And, if you're lucky, you just may get to see that.