If a child called “oppositionally defiant” could label the adults in their life, what kinds of things might they call them?

Needlessly antagonistic? Endlessly demanding? Perhaps their adults themselves would receive the diagnosis of ODD — Overly Dictatorial Disorder.

What about a child called “pathologically demand avoidant”? What might they call their adults — the ones who seem to make an arguably pathological amount of demands?

Who gets to decide how much attention is a “deficit”? Who gets to decide how much activity is “hyper-“? Their adults might end up with Inflexible Hypokinetic Disorder. After all, it’s gotta be some kind of neurological issue to want to sit down and work at a desk all day.

Listen to what I am and am not saying. I am not saying that I don’t think that ADHD exists, or that I don’t believe in measurable neurological differences among brains. I am not saying that I don’t think diagnoses or labels have a purpose, or that people shouldn’t pursue them — especially when they help those people find a community of like-minded people. When they open doors instead of slamming them in people’s faces, that’s exactly what they ought to do.

I am saying that if the children were in charge of the metaphorical door-slamming and the adults were on the receiving end of having the doors slammed, they might think more deeply about what the labels are for and what they’re really saying.
If they’re just saying, “I have a hard time handling this kid,” maybe they ought to stop putting a label on the kid and start contemplating why they believe a kid ought to be handled.

If they’re just saying, “Doing something my preferred way doesn’t work for this child,” maybe they need to ask themselves what the child’s preferred way is instead.

[Image description: A light pink background with words over it that read, “What would life be like if children could label and diagnose the adults in their lives at will?” The words “children” and “adults” have been highlighted for emphasis. The quote is by Robin Einzig of Visible Child. Click the image to go to her website.]