Seeing Your Child Through All The Labels


A professional and later friend once told me, “Remember Joanne, no matter how many acronyms and conditions become attached to Michael, he will always be your son and the amazing child he is. Don’t forget that.” And every time I see yet another hurdle, yet something else we need to tackle as a family and he as an individual, I think of her wise words. It is hard at times though. I thought I knew my son, and now new things are coming up about other conditions he could or does have. Some are surprises. Some are not. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed. I had a moment last week when I said to myself,  I can’t do this anymore. Autism is hard enough. Diabetes is challenging. Now he may have ADHD or ODD. I want things to be simple. I want motherhood to be simple. We are now going down the root of supplementing our behavior therapies with medication and it is a scary route for me. That is when I start to think about Michael. What must it be like for him? What must it be like to have his life change with a diabetes diagnosis and now medication? Who knows what side effects or not it will have on him? It’s also those tween hormones and puberty kicking in. Not easy for any child or parent.

I realized that instead of pitying myself and my workload, I needed to remember that there is a human being under all the labels of Autism, Diabetes, and possible ADHD/ODD, Anxiety and anything else that may arise. There is Michael- navigator, actor, artist, chef. Michael-kind son and family member, friend and human being. Michael- God’s child and reminder of God’s plan in my life and in the world. And finally Michael-unique, quirky, impatient, intelligent, social, musical, and well, little boy who is doing the best he can with what he’s got. Yes, he needs help. Yes, he needs tools. Yes, he needs love. I need to take a deep breath and have the strength to give it to him.

“Mommy do you still love me?” He asks me after a particularly difficult day when he has calmed down and apologized.

“Yes, Michael. I always love you. I don’t like how you behave and the choices you make. Remember, use your strategies, the ones you wrote down, the ones we talked about.”

“I know. It’s just hard when you say things I don’t like.” I am both frustrated and amused. I take a deep breath so he only sees the serious side.

“You need to learn to handle the word no Michael. Life is about handling things we don’t always like to hear as well as like to hear.”

“Oh ok. Sorry Mommy.”

“Don’t apologize. Remember to use the strategies first so you won’t need to apologize.”

Michael nods. We hug and another incident is filed away. Meanwhile I have to remind myself the words of another wise woman who worked with Michael and what she told Dad and I.

“Remember, he is just a little boy. Don’t take him to heart.”

It’s true. He is a little boy struggling underneath it all. And as his Mom I need to remember that every hurtful action, while needing to be addressed firmly and strictly, also needs to be reacted to calmly, so that I can move on to helping Michael the boy find his place in the world without aggression and stress.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling to see your child beyond their labels? Is it challenging to see the little boy/girl and their unique talents over all the behaviors and labels? Remember, your child is still there, underneath the drama, rebellion and acronyms. Don’t be afraid to reach out to that child. Do something fun with your child. Read, play a game, go for a walk. Remember, you will both get past the other things if you let love lead the way. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: 

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