***TRIGGER WARNING**** ABLEISM
Good evening everyone. I simply must reach out and speak out about this topic. I came across an appalling Instagram meme (this past weekend), on a public figure’s page. It says exactly the following,
“Today in the 21st Century, people want to banish the word “NAUGHTY.” They say it’s a negative word to describe a child’s behaviour. Yet we want to desperately LABEL our children ADD, ADHD, ODD and every other A B C D.”Quoted from the public Instagram page of a “global parenting and family expert.”
I am still as shocked and appalled by this quote as when I first came across it. I recognized many familiar names (our following Instagram families), commenting in the Instagram comments of this public figure’s post. I completely agree with every comment I have read so far objecting to this post.
I wish the author would take this down and apologize. This post is so very damaging, and it is not okay. I feel like it sets us back 50 years in terms of accepting differences and disabilities! It’s unbelievable that we are dealing with an attitude that dismisses the very existence of neurodiversity in these times. This is 2022!
Here is my response, for what it’s worth:
“I hope this is an appalling PR error; a case of the caption of this post just not matching up to the shocking wordage of this meme. However, the addition of the demeaning implication that diagnoses (many of us know all to well), such as ADHD, ASD, PDA, OCD, etc….are merely labels a parent hunts down in order to explain away their ineffective or permissive parenting style, is SO very outrageous, hurtful, condescending and untrue.
It’s also utterly dismissive of all the very real and diverse medical conditions that are lived by so many neurodiverse individuals and their families, on a constant daily basis. Amongst the many families I help support and advocate for, I have never once come across a parent doing this!
The “ABCD” comment is immensely triggering to neurodiverse adults who have lived childhoods in which they were undiagnosed and (perhaps) often misunderstood; made to feel inadequate, as if they couldn’t do anything right because they were not behaving and presenting in the same manner as their neurotypical counterparts.
Many hold the childhood trauma of being told they were too much, overly sensitive, too dramatic, too lazy, too slow, too hyper (why can’t you just sit stil) etc – all things that were totally neurodiverse traits and medical symptoms, as part of their neurological differences and other co-occurring medical conditions.
We need to emphasize that behaviours are purely a response to something; a manner in which to communicate an unmet need, a want, an emotion that needs to be expressed to us, and so on…) It’s often up to us, the caregivers/parents, to change OUR OWN behaviours and perceptions in order to lead by example, meet them where they are at, and positively understand how sensory processing differences, mental illness, developmental delays, communication differences etc are at play.
This meme is NOT at all a reflection of what I would expect to read from any professional nanny; firm but fair, fun but authoritative, kind and yet an ally to ALL parents, ALL families and ALL children, regardless of their diagnoses and neurological make-up; this is what I expect!
This meme goes against the very essence of all the trust that parents place upon childcare professionals working with their children in order to promote effective and inclusive behaviour management strategies. This attitude is the direct opposite of what I would expect to read from ANY childcare expert, let alone a much loved, highly experienced and trusted, highly successfully “global parenting and family expert.”
As a mom to 5 daughters, 2 of whom are autistic (diagnosed also with ADHD among other things), both opposites in many ways), I can assure you I have never heard of any caregiving families deliberately looking to label their child inappropriately! A correct diagnosis is a means to finally be able to push for necessary accommodation, services and resources in order to bring about more positive outcomes and strive for a better quality of life. Seeking the appropriate help is our duty as primary caregivers.
For many, the diagnosis IS validation, an explanation, a huge lightbulb moment, and it grants a huge sigh of relief….They come to realize that there was a very valid reason for why they did things differently, why they behaved differently, and it’s closure on all those doubts; a realization of the fact that there is nothing wrong, no one is broken, there is nothing to be compared to….
This is about pursuing realistic expectations and goals as well as a journey of healing, self-acceptance and acceptance. A diagnosis of this kind goes way beyond the notion of labels. It’s about finally putting a description upon the very existence of such diverse differences and disabilities, which truly need to be fully included and embraced in any modern society. Thank you everyone.”
Anne G. Bragg, BA Hons Education & French, Founder & Owner, Autism Supermoms®️