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!
This question is always multi-faceted. You never get quite the same answer from anyone who does or doesn’t do it, so I believe it’s worth being addressed as to why we homeschool and why we’d “put ourselves through that” with all of the challenges. Many families in our area homeschool for religious purposes, and although we do teach our children from the Bible, that’s not our primary reason.
In the beginning, we homeschooled our children for the sake of a better education and protection of their youth and innocence. The public school system in our area was bad, bad, bad. Not only were test scores dismally low, but sex, drugs, alcohol, child pregnancy, and violence were way above average. Keep in mind that we have never lived in a big city, or a bad neighborhood- this is all about a small town community.
The year before we would have needed to register our oldest for Kindergarten, there was a search and seizure with drug dogs at the elementary school… and they actually ‘busted’ several children aged 6-10 with drugs and drug paraphilia. If that hadn’t been enough, the same school system was showing a horrible rate of young teen pregnancy. Not 17, 18, 19 year old students, but 12, 13, 14 year olds were getting pregnant multiple times. It was such an issue that an OB/GYN began visiting the health department a couple times a week to perform abortions on little girls; little girls who never even had to tell their parent’s they were pregnant before killing their own child and putting their lives at risk with such an invasive procedure on such immature bodies.
In addition to all of that, our county rated 2nd lowest in the ENTIRE state as far as test scores went. Children were graduating high school, on honor roll, and not being able to read or write a cognitive sentence. The state threatened to pull funding for the schools, and they ‘revamped’ a little. However, it was just enough to pull up from 2nd lowest to 4th lowest, yet somehow the state was satisfied.
It wasn’t happening.
Not to my babies.
Regardless of any difficulties we might face, financially or otherwise, we are committed to giving our children a better opportunity for a decent life then a 40% rate of teen motherhood. We are committed to giving our children the individualized attention that they need instead of letting them be put in the ‘slow’ class because they learn differently in a school where the ‘smart kids’ can’t all read.
It’s not easy.
Some days it down-right sucks.
But it’s worth every thing.