Something I struggle with every time we meet somebody new, join an extracurricular activity or have a new play date, is when or if I tell them about the “label” that has been placed upon my child. I feel as though when I tell people about his SPD, it is protecting him, but at the same time I think that his “label” is hurting him.
I know he needs his “label” for the classroom so he can have his school tools and IEP to help him through the day, but I also worry about the other classmates using his “label” to tease him. Sometimes I tell other Moms about his “label” during play dates to explain why he may be doing something odd, then I wonder if we will be invited on a play date with them again. As much as I want him to be treated like everyone else, I fear that every time I refer to his “label” I am hurting his chances to be like everyone else.I just recently had this “label” battle when signing Jack up for Tae Kwon Do. I wanted him to join because I thought the discipline and coordination would be very beneficial to him. Plus, if he were to ever become a target to bullying, he could defend himself. So we started our classes without me “labeling” him, because I wanted to give him a chance without me protecting him. However, that only lasted 2 classes. I knew that standing still in class was going to be a struggle for Jack because he twitches and wiggles and bounces so much. But I was horrified when he was put in the “goober spot” (as the center called it)( aka time-out spot) for wiggling to much. This is when I had to step in.
First of all, Jack was crushed because he was called a goober. I thought Tae Kwon Do helped with self esteem, and this clearly was not helping. Second of all, trying to explain that neurologically he cannot stand like a statue without wiggling, was falling upon deaf ears. This is when trying to explain an invisible disorder is frustrating.
A few classes later, he was getting yelled at for not having proper eye contact when the instructor was talking. *thud* I wanted to cry, because he was getting singled out by a teacher which caused everyone in class to look at him and he was getting in trouble for something he could not control. The whole experience has been a nightmare for my family, and unfortunately I am locked into a contract that has us signed up for 6 months. Jack fights with me about going to class and I really don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to go to a class where I got in trouble for things I could not control either. Where and when do I draw the line of “labeling”?
This is when I feel like I am my child’s only advocate in bringing awareness about SPD, however, part of me wishes he didn’t have the “label” and we could be just like everyone else. If I don’t “label” him to others, would they even notice his “quirks”? Am I helping him or hindering him by “labeling”? Or am I just trying to protect him by “labeling” him? Will he be able to control his “quirks” eventually? I don’t know when to cut the cord and just let him be who he is without any explanation. He is 6 years old now and he is starting to ask questions about why he has to take medicine, and why he has things in the classroom that the other kids do not. He wants to be just like everyone else as much as I want him to be like everyone else. Will this “label” always define him? My goal is to love him more than I “label” him.