I've mentioned before that I'm label averse, so what gives with me getting my son an Official Label? It's prompted some reflection, I can tell you.
As well as being label averse, I'm a champion justifier, and I think I've justified this quite well. I don't think I accept that Aspergers is a real label. I certainly don't accept that it's a "disorder". It's a different way of being, one that the world we live in doesn't make much room for. This is, obviously, a description that applies to a great deal of things that are referred to as disabilities. I've been slowly shifting my perception of a lot these issues for a while now, but there's nothing like living with one of them to push you that bit harder.
Charlie needs this label, because the world he lives in is so bloody intolerant and inflexible that spending a morning of kindergarten (prep) class filling a page with musical notes will generally get him a much less attractive label of "uncooperative" or "doesn't follow directions" or some such. It didn't, as it happens, because he has a most wonderful kindergarten teacher, but he's not likely to carry that luck all the way through school. He needs a piece of paper to say "Please let me be me, because I have a label you have to respect". That's a pretty sad indictment of our school system.
I need him to have this label to access some help for parenting a kid like him. His behaviour doesn't fit the standard parenting manuals, and why would anyone want to broaden the ideas presented to cover children with a "disorder"? A parent will clearly need specialist help with that. Of course, kids like him are very common, and always have been, but their parents have largely muddled through, finding things that work by trial and error. I wonder how many kids' parents couldn't find the right path, and how badly some of those kids suffered as a result. I wonder if Charlie's uncle might be one of them, but we'll never know. I wonder how many of them might have been helped if conventional wisdom had included some diversity in the patterns of kids' behaviour.
So I'm seeing this label as a way of demanding respect and caring from a world that finds him inconvenient, but I'm also not really accepting it as a label. It's a diagnosis, or something. It's a means of being understood, until such time as the world moves on and accepts that we don't all think alike, or socialise alike, or even perceive the world alike. Hopefully one day he'll just be Charlie again, not because he's changed, but because the world has.