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Alison Knowles

Spring 2015


If you go to the supermarket now everything has to list what’s in it – like how much fat salt sugar etc.

I have not yet seen a label that says well there might be sugar in it or well this product is a bit like that product so it might be in the spectrum of having sugar in it.

My point….

ADHD, OCD, bi polar, Autism – the list goes on.

I had a little chap sent to my hut and when I asked him what was wrong and why he was here he said:

“I am on the edge of the spectrum for ADHD and OCD.”

“Ah – I said – that must be exhausting!”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well – it must be exhausting being on the edge of the spectrum and being all those things! You can’t have much time or energy left at the end of the day keeping all those labels juggling.”

He looked at me confused.

I asked – “How do you know you have an alphabet after your name.

“Because the nurses and doctors said so when mummy asked them why I do certain things.”

“Ah” – I said – “Well they all are very good at their jobs so they must be right….”

“What do you do that made your mummy take you to get those labels?”

The lad explained – “I won’t bore you with it but basically – he misbehaved, he liked things being neat, he got cross a lot.” When I drilled down with him on this behaviours I got this story.

“I was ok till my little brother was born, I did not have any labels. I had my own room and could always find things because I knew where I had put them. But my little brother is messy and he breaks my toys so I put them up on a high shelf so he can’t.”

“I like to read and play on my Xbox, but my little brother is always jumping on me or pulling the cables out so I yell at him, then mum yells at me, then I get really cross because it’s not my fault, then I get upset cos she obviously loves him more, then I get told off all the time for not being a big boy and being nicer to my brother.”

This explanation went on and on. Bless him a proper emotional outcry!

The lad ended his story with something very telling. “Mummy doesn’t get as cross now and cuddles me more because I am poorly.” He concluded with – “I don’t want to be here because I want to keep my labels.”

ADHD? Bipolar? OCD?
Now these are real diagnosis and far be it from me to question the powers that be

But I spoke to his mum and made a few suggestions:

  • Let the lad have a few hours each day uninterrupted by his baby brother.
  • Spend some time each day doing stuff with just him without the baby brother.
  • Give him a lock on a cupboard to protect his things from his baby brother.

After a few weeks the mum wrote to me and said that her son seemed cured! It’s a miracle!


Poor mum home alone with two youngsters – the lad I was working with was only 8. It’s exhausting and tiring and really tough. The baby brother was 3 and being a three year old. Sometimes if we can’t cope we look to others for answers – this mum was at her wits end with exhaustion and needed a reason her 8 year old was misbehaving. Other mums suggested he might be this label or that and understandably that sat well with this young mum.

Because she could not see what was really going on and the labels were at least one answer.

I am glad she bought him to me because he is ok now and feels loved and special again and his behaviour has stopped. But I see so many teenagers that were given labels when they were younger and bless them – have worked so hard to live up to that label because it stopped mum yelling at them “because they were poorly”… it became a benefit to have these labels.

And these teenagers now really believe they are this or that and work hard at being this or that rather than being who they really are. And without intervention will live their lives being the labels they are given.

The medical profession is under a lot of strain – they have ten minutes on average to make a diagnosis. It’s not their fault it’s no one’s fault, I believe everyone is doing the best they can with the time and information they have. Most of the time the diagnosis is right.

But sometimes it’s just not.

We are very quick to label things, without having the time to really check out the ingredients that make up the label. We like things in boxes that make sense when we can’t make sense of them.

Something has nuts in it or it doesn’t.

You are OCD or ADHD or you are not – I worry about that the spectrum for many of these labels are so wide that it is easier to fit a behaviour into such a label rather than exploring more possibilities.

Check the ingredients in any way you can before you give anything a label.