A while back I talked about some difficulties little Peter was having and mentioned that we were considering having him assessed for an autism spectrum disorder.
We prayed, we talked, and I did a ton of research. Let’s just say that I ate, slept, breathed, and dreamt about ASD and all kinds of sensory processing issues for weeks. Yeah, I was obsessed. I’m like that.
At first, I was becoming more and more convinced that, yes, this is Peter and, yes, we definitely needed to have a professional assessment done.
But as I continued to read, I came to a turning point. And a realization that, no, this really isn’t Peter.
Peter is totally unique, just like any other child who may or may not have developmental difficulties. He fits Peter’s patterns. He’s full of Peter-ness.
Now, this is not to say that he doesn’t have challenges. I’m not in denial here. He definitely does. But as much as I want (and need) to help him, as much as I wanted an answer, as much as I wanted to fix him, what my husband and I both came to see is that it isn’t about fixing him.
I’m fairly convinced that I could take him somewhere and get him “diagnosed.” Possibly with Asperger’s Syndrome. Possibly with ADHD. Or possibly with Sensory Integration Disorder. Possibly with some combination of all of the above. Or none of the above, but some other “syndrome” I haven’t considered.
But the reality is that those labels don’t really help me or him. They limit him and put him into a box. They make it sound like he’s broken and needs to be fixed. The danger of defining his “problem” this way is that it can very easily become all about trying to make him more “normal.” There isn’t a perfect little boy that Peter should or needs to become. He needs to be Peter.
So as I read, I looked more and more closely at Peter himself. And I saw an amazing little boy. A smart, sensitive, affectionate, artistic, imaginative boy who loves puns.
Yes, he has a few challenges. He’s intense and impatient. He has a few social hang-ups. He has some sensory issues. And there are some other bits and pieces. His ichthyosis does come into it.
But, he is not the sum and total of his challenges. That’s a very small part of who he is.
Educating myself on ways to help him with those challenges, that’s a smart thing. I can help him and I am.
But a label is not what he needs right now. He doesn’t need to be defined.
What he needs is our love and acceptance.
At some point we may decide that an assessment would be in his best interest, but right now we need to look at the whole person Peter is.
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