With the news last week, that we will be starting our journey with 4 Paws for Ability to get a service dog for Noel, I was at once elated, and surprisingly, terrified.
Well, the dog requires some heavy duty fundraising. Fundraising is not something that can be done quietly, in the privacy of your home. Fundraising will require us to introduce Noel to our community and explain his differences. And for some reason, that scares me.
I feel like it shouldn't. Like, perhaps the reason I am scared is because I am ashamed, although I am fairly sure that the reason I am scared is because I want to protect him. From hurt, from being judged, and from being labeled.
My mother is very concerned about labeling him, because I think she is worried that he will never escape from being the "kid with Asperger's" if we do.
But he will always be the kid with Asperger's. He has it. It is shaping who he is, in both positive and negative ways. We need the dog to help him with the negatives because they are such destructive forces in his life.
So we have to stick a label on him. One that I worry he will have to carry like a brand for the rest of his life. Try as I might, I can't will the label of Asperger's into a badge of honour, no matter how many times I pull out 'Albert Einstein probably had it!'.
The dog will make his life infinitely better. When I weigh that against the possibility of people who he doesn't know judging him and making assumptions about him, the dog wins. So a fundraising we will go...
Stephanie can be found at Robot Tea on all other days of the month