I have never been a fan of labels–on clothing or on people. So, when Edgar’s karate teacher asked me yesterday if I had ever considered having him tested for ADHD, I did what every self-respecting mother does in such a situation–I became defensive.
She noted that in her experience she generally avoids such labeling; however, she quickly added that there have been a couple of kids she has known that she “could point to and say ‘ADHD.'” I made the assumption that she felt Edgar was one of the two.
For every article that exists extolling the virtues of testing/diagnosis/medication/behavior modification, there is one saying that there is a blatant epidemic of over diagnosing in this country. Given my resistance to labeling–in both my personal and professional lives–I tend to sit in the latter camp. Couple that with the fact that I find the word “normal” practically offensive, I found myself wondering why we label and what benefit–if any–is derived from it.
Why must an outgoing person categorize a quiet child as “shy”? Why must a concrete thinker categorize a child who loves art or music as a “dreamer”? And why must an adult who has clearly mastered self-control categorize an energetic four-year-old as “ADHD”?
I don’t know. But here is what I do know: Edgar is pure energy. He is passionate, visceral, and is one of the few people I know who seems to truly, unabashedly love life. He takes pleasure in finding a snail in the yard, eating a fresh strawberry, having a conversation with a person (or his Dream Horse), petting a dog, and feeling the sun on his face. He was made for this earth and thrives on it. He can sit and attend–when he’s riding a horse, listening to a favorite story, constructing a feat of engineering excellence out of Tinker Toys, or feasting his eyes on the miracle of clay-mation that is Wallace and Gromit. He loves to laugh and makes others laugh. He is clever, creative, admittedly messy, and unbelievably silly.
Does the fact that he has a hard time–at age four–sitting still in karate class mean he has ADHD? We’ll never know. Because a label that limits my child in any way or colors the way others perceive him is not for me. Edgar’s presence brings happiness to others; and those who are able to look at him instead of label him will be the beneficiaries of his joy.