The Label Debate
There was a debate amongst my friends on Facebook yesterday about having your children tested for learning disabilities while homeschooling; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Now, while none of my children have severe disabilities that effect the amount that they can learn, they do have difficulties with keeping information in their heads. And I had them tested to find that out. So, that ends it.
Okay, seriously. I understand the problems that people may have with having their children labeled as something. I’ve devoted an entire little section of the web to overcoming those labels. It’s that truly what this is about? We don’t want our children to think that there is anything wrong with them whatsoever so we refuse to give anyone the opportunity to attach a label to our child?
So, my first point is Labels are a Bad Thing.
The last thing any parent wants is a child who doesn’t have the confidence in themselves to achieve something because they’ve been labeled learning disabled or physically disabled. That’s bad. People, especially children, should never think that anyone is better then they are just because God didn’t make them the same way.
However, understanding how an individual mind or body works, knowing it’s limitations, and accepting the way it learns and moves is an amazing tool that I don’t believe any parent should deny themselves or their children.
That brings us to my second point: Understanding Labels is a good thing.
So, to sum it up so far: being labeled is a bad thing IF it makes you feel less. When you take your time and energy to put that label to good use, it becomes a good thing.
I’ll give you an example from my own experience, that has nothing to do with learning disabilities. This philosophy works both ways.
My six year old daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 3 years old. Cerebral Palsy, for those of you who don’t know, is a very broad term that’s used to describe basically any damage to the motor control sensors in the brain. It means she has quite a bit of scar tissue from a pre-natel injury along her spinal cord where it connects to her brain. The doctors warned us that she may never walk properly, run, swim, dance, write, the list goes on. That was three years ago. My daughter is a very active little girl, she’s a cheerleader, a dancer, a gymnastic. She swims and runs. She’s learning cursive this year.
Did her label kill her? Did it keep her from doing the things she loves?
Absolutely not! We took the information the doctor empowered us with and made a run for it. We’ve taught her that, although some things may be more difficult for her, she can do it if she works hard enough. (I do want to add that I don’t think this is all us, we are very blessed in this case- God blessed her with a will to beat her body’s condition that my husband and I could NEVER fake. It’s all God and her!)
That brings my to my third and final point: It’s all a matter of perspective.
Labels can disable or labels can empower. Getting a diagnosis of a learning disability or difficulty should never, ever, be the final say-so in the process. Receiving a label is the start of a journey, not the end.
They are not about your child being less than your friend’s child or even your other children. It’s about being different. The differences should be embraced as a wonderful, if occasionally frustrating, part of the over-all awesomeness of your little one.
Being ADHD, dyslectic, autistic, downs, or any other disorder does not have to define your child. It’s the way they are and you should be over-joyed that you can move forward, knowing the child’s limitations and seeking out ways to be the best they can be in spite of them.
The debate should not be about getting a diagnosis. Diagnosis are GOOD things. We pay doctors good money for good reasons: they are there to help us. Let them do their jobs.
Educate yourself, educate your family and friends, educate your child.
Overcome the moniker…
Rise above the label!