People often make me smile – sometimes, so much so that I write a blog about them. This was the case for an airline employee I encountered several years ago. Randomly, I thought about her earlier this week when I was at the airport, so I took it as a sign and found the blog to repost:

I wonder if labels help or hurt – ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Emotionally Disturbed. [This last one makes me twitch every time I say it.] I do understand that in order to treat a concern it is helpful to define it, but as our society gets more diverse it becomes increasingly harder to specifically classify all the different patterns of human behavior.

I got stranded in Ohio this weekend, but all worked out well thanks to one airline employee who helped me sort things out. When I approached her at the counter she struck me as… different. Quirky, one might say. I kept imagining what she must have been like in elementary school. My guess is her behaviors stood out a bit. Although my first reaction was one of judgment, the more I spoke with her the more I understood her. Once I stepped back and turned my head to one side I was able to appreciate her unique perspective. At the end of our interaction she resolved my conflict beautifully and even gave me a travel voucher for my inconvenience. Just before I left the counter she exuberantly hopped over the luggage scale and accosted me with a heart-felt hug. She said she really liked nice and funny young men. I smiled and laughed – as did the 30 people in line behind me.

Kids behaviors are getting more diverse, but so are adults. This means we need to do a better job of deciphering which behaviors are disabilities and which are variabilities. If we want our children to show more tolerance toward others, then we need to move away from our own inclination to label behaviors we may not understand. Lord knows there are more than a few labels people could easily slap on me.