See the whole person, not the label

Dylan Source

This past week, my children and I presented research on Asperger’s Syndrome at the university that I attend.  I also presented last year, so this wasn’t a new experience for me, but it was for my children.  They are only 20 and 17.  My daughter attends college with me, but my son is a high school student and consequently happens to have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Our journey navigating the school system, and just society in general, has been a long, difficult road; therefore, for him to stand up in front of all these people (and to step out of his comfort zone), and not only talk on the subject, but to share his deepest thoughts, was the most amazing, brave thing I have ever witnessed.  When I grow up, I want to be just like my kids. They are determined to bring awareness to the subject, so that they can hopefully decrease stigmatism.

At the end of our presentation, my son stood up in front of the room and read the following poem that he wrote.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when he finished.   His honesty as he read his words was inspirational.  I asked him today if I could share his words on my blog and he said of course.  For years, educators have told me that I had unrealistic expectations for my son.  Thank goodness I didn’t listen to them.  Never let others tell you that you can’t do anything.  Only we know what we are truly capable of.

See the whole person, not the label

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Mental Illness?  I think not.
How does someone get Asperger’s Syndrome?
A gift given to children through birth or heredity.

Mental Illness.  I think not.
I am different; I am socially awkward.
A gift given to children through birth or heredity.
I don’t have a clue.

I am different; I am socially awkward.
I have significantly increased intelligence.
I don’t have a clue.
I have sporadic, hyperactive behavior.

I have significantly increased intelligence.

I am socially awkward.

I have sporadic, hyperactive behavior.

I grasp academics slower than others.

I am socially awkward.

I do not like being labeled.

I grasp academics slower than others.

I feel like another product on a conveyor belt.

I do not like being labeled.

Others see me as indistinguishable from other people with the same label.

I feel like another product on a conveyor belt.

Quit putting me in a category.

Others see me as indistinguishable from  other people with the same label.

I am a loyal and generous person.

Quit putting me in a category.

I am fun, outgoing, and energetic.

I am a loyal and generous person.

In the future, I would not want people to know I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

I am fun, outgoing, and energetic.

Asperger’s Syndrome does not define me.

In the future, I would not want people to know I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

The early years of my life, they held me back.

Asperger’s Syndrome does not define me.

Over the years, I learned social cues, behaviors, rules, respect….things that come easier to normal children

The early years of my life, they held me back.

Teachers put no effort into providing the education I deserve.

Over the years, I learned social cues, behaviors, rules, respect….things that come easier to normal children

Teachers put me in a box and never try to approach my learning in a different way.

Teachers put no effort into providing the education I deserve.

I feel judged. I feel isolated. I feel helpless.

Teachers put me in a box and never try to approach my learning in a different way.

My teacher’s motto “I can’t drop everything to focus on your problem”

I feel judged. I feel isolated. I feel helpless.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

My teacher’s motto “I can’t drop everything to focus on your problem”

Ignore the label and treat me like a human being; a human being who is effected by your judgment.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.
How does someone get Asperger’s Syndrome?
Ignore the label and treat me like a human being; a human being who is effected by your judgment.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

–          By D. G. @2014

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