The Harm of Labeling

By Yamila García

I wonder why of all the labels that we neurodivergents get, none of them are positive. How come some of our difficulties have become so well known, but so much is unknown about our abilities? There is much talk about not putting labels or getting carried away by stereotypes, but little is taught to put an end to this. I would hope that a neurodivergent person could be seen as someone who has the ability to think, process information and solve problems in a different way than the majority. After all, this is the reality of who we are. Our brains just work differently. And it is not that we have difficulties adapting, it is rather that the world is designed for the neurotypical majority. 

I’m not saying that we should be labeled by certain abilities instead of difficulties, either. I just wonder why the negative labels are all we hear about, when we not only have difficulties but also abilities. Could it be that the struggle of those who are different is seen as a great weakness while the struggles of neurotypical people are seen as something normal? Some neurodivergents have the ability to hyperfocus, so why are those who cannot focus like this labeled “people with hyperfocus deficit?” Other neurodivergents have the ability to spot patterns easily, but we don’t label those who can’t as “pattern blind.” We may be a minority, but shouldn’t our abilities be recognized for the value of having a different perspective? I don’t think anyone should be identified and labeled for their difficulties. Being labeled by our struggles does nothing more than put up a barrier that prevents the rest of society from knowing us and getting rich from the exchange. 

When there is a problem that many cannot solve, people always look for someone who thinks differently. If this is so, why as a society do we continue to seek standardization on a day-to-day basis? I remember working with people who valued my ability to think differently and solve problems in ways that none of them thought of. They didn’t know I was neurodivergent because back then I didn’t know either. But what if they did? Would I have even had the chance to work there? Would they have taken me as seriously as they did when they didn’t know? There is harmful packaging covering our abilities and today, it is all that many can see of us.