Friday, January 29, 2010

labels mean consensus

january 29 2010

Hans commented on the way I quickly described one of my children. And here's my reply:

No, people can't be sealed with a stamp.
But that way my readers understand about which child I'm talking.
That's necessary with 6 of them.

When you're dealing with parents of special children as long as I do (almost 25 years now) you know it's not a typical dutch labeling issue, but a fast way of communicating the core issues of daily life.

When I studied psychology I was one of the many idealists who wanted to adress each person in his own unique being. And I did. (And still do).
I was (and am) able to skip all ways of descibing the person until insurances wanted to know why they had to pay, until other caretakers wanted to know what they could expect, until I got my exams and my professors wanted to know whether I knew what I needed to know to have at least some basic understanding of the different ways the psyche presents itself, and until the person him- or herself wanted to get a grasp on what he or she was experiencing.
People find security in a name, even when it's an artificial label.

When other parents of autistic children arrive at my blog, they know within a few seconds which characteristics we're talking about.

Labels (used the way we're talking about) are a form of consensus.
They emerge from observations and research, from features certain people share.
They're not stamps, they're not used to take unique features of people away.

When I say that my first son has asperger syndrome and my fourth classic autism, I'm talking about two unique persons who share certain characteristics because they're both "on the autistic spectrum", but who also deal with the world in a complete different way.

I know where you come from, but I also know that "labels" are used every day, by each of us, even without realising.
Calling a tree a tree, and a table a table instead of: two pieces of wood (120x45x4 cm) assembled together by means of glue and pressure, horizontally situated on 4...etc etc.).



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