Over the years, I've talked to more than a few parents who confessed they hated having to take their children to a doctor to find out why they were struggling in school. It wasn't that they didn't want to help their kids. They were just afraid of having them "labeled." Maybe that's why I'm loving the platform of this year's Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman.
Alexis was diagnosed with autism when she was 11. So what does that have to do with her platform?
The budding comedienne has dubbed it "Normal Is Just a Dryer Setting: Living With Autism." She wants to show the world that having autism is just part of life's "adventure."
Considering Alexis' rise to the top of the pageant world in her state is in and of itself a way to defy the myth that autistic kids are all non-verbal and completely unable to function in regular society, Wineman is a perfect spokeswoman for the gig. She's already shown you can label her, but you can't make Miss Montana Alexis Wineman fit into a box.
Boxes. Myths. They're almost as scary for parents as waiting for the diagnosis itself. Because a diagnosis enables us to get our kids help, but once it gets out that our kids have something -- ADHD, autism, whatever -- people heap all their misconceptions on this one poor kid. And they have to fight their way out of a box someone else has created for them.
People like Alexis are the shining stars parents need to light up our sky, to show the rest of the world that our kids are still our kids underneath the labels, behind the diagnosis.
Have you felt like your kid has been "labeled"? What happened?
Image via Robynlou8/Flickr