One of the usual topics I see in Autism-related forums here in the Philippines is what should be written in our child’s Person With Disability ID (PWD ID).
Our kids may be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but the classification that you will see in our children’s ID varies.
These are the common classifications:
I was very curious about this so I asked the Autism Society of the Philippines or ASP.
They gave me this document :
and then eventually, I also found this blog post from their website that summarizes the document:
So they suggest:
Instead of putting the specific disability on the card, the general classification (i.e. Neurodevelopmental Disability) shall be stated. This helps parents or individuals from openly declaring their child’s disability and will stop establishments from withholding benefits arbitrarily based on specific disabilities.
First and foremost, I am not really comfortable with the label - "Person with Disability".
Come to think of it, we all have our disabilities - mentally, emotionally, physically. It is just a matter of if you were diagnosed or not… whether you are labeled or not.
Initially, for me, it is okay to indicate Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the ID. My reason is that if I'm not open to the diagnosis, it's like I am saying there's something wrong with having ASD.
In my son's ID, what’s indicated is "Autism - Learning Disability".
Hmmm ... don't we all have learning challenges?
I also talked to my sister in the US and she said in the US:
They call it Disability Card (not ID). All citizens have a State ID, and those who need to avail of certain benefits have Disability Card. So what's the difference? At its core, ID is your IDENTITY. Is it fair to be identified based on your diagnosis? IMHO, it may not be fair.
My sister also mentioned about having the right to privacy as to your medical records and information. This is also a law here in the Philippines but unfortunately, this is something that we still need to be taken seriously here.
After reading the blog post and the document from ASP several times plus my conversation with my sister, I realized... I prefer to use the GENERAL CLASSIFICATION in my son’s Disability ID.
Some may argue that being open to these terms (disable, mental, autism) is part of the acceptance process. The problem is, this kind of idea does not apply to all.
My two reasons why I support ASP’s position:
The bottom line, it's all about RESPECTing the different perspectives of parents and most importantly, the preference of individuals with ASD.
In my work, where we collaborate with life coaches, the words that you accept in your head are very important. Like if you say - "I have learning disability."... Over time, your subconscious mind will believe that negative remark. Self-worth is related to empowering thoughts. So, should we feed the positive or the negative?
As much as I do not want to put much emphasis on labels and levels… I support ASP on their position and if possible, should we abandon the term - Person With Disability (PWD) for individuals with autism? Maybe Differently Abled?