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In the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), labels opened the door to services such as social work, speech therapy, quiet rooms, therapeutic horseback riding, one-on-one swimming lessons, etc. At some point, however, the label is not just a topic of discussion and planning among parents, teachers, and therapists. In Michigan, the student is invited to at least part of the Educational Planning meetings beginning in middle school, or at the latest, high school. This is the beginning of the transition process to self-care, to self-advocacy, to independent living.

Eventually you do have to have the “big talk” and I am not talking about the birds and the bees (although that is another delicate issue). We had to tell our kids that they are autistic. When I had the big talk with my children, my oldest daughter accepted it readily, but then she was in an autism classroom (partially mainstreamed). My son felt bad about it, but eventually came to accept it. My youngest daughter was angry and mad about it – and has not and will never accept it (her words). Even though she needed speech therapy, she made the visits with the speech therapists miserable. We finally had to pull her out of speech therapy because of her attitude. Admittedly, she has fewer autistic traits and more typical teenage traits as a trade off. She is more neurotypical than her sister and brother. She is aware of the world around her and other people. On the other hand, her attitudes can be off putting, and she seems tone deaf as to how she sounds to other people.