I found this meme on Pinterest (and couldn’t find the original source, unfortunately) while looking for another quote I half-remembered, and thought it was very true:
One of my close family members has several diagnoses attached to him, and while they have helped me understand things about him – how he thinks, how he reacts, how he processes information and stimuli – it would be incredibly reductionistic of me to think of him solely in terms of those diagnoses. Thinking of them as tools to help me understand and love him better, instead of as labels to describe him, define him, “excuse” him, or write him off, is the best way for me to respond to the fact that he has those diagnoses. And when I interact with him, in my mind, he is simply himself first and foremost – with all his quirks, his profound depths, his dry humor, his skills and interests, and all the other little things that accumulate together to make him who he is. The alphabet soup the doctors use to describe the way his brain works (or struggles to work) doesn’t usually cross my mind at all. I love him for who he is, and I will always love him for who he is. I’m thankful for the words and terms that have helped me understand him better – but unless I pair that understanding with true relationship, it will become mere labeling and categorization rather than the deep personal knowledge of love and presence that I want to characterize our relationship.