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    #212693 - 03/15/15 07:31 AM Why do we have to label our children?
    whereditgo Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/05/15
    Posts: 9
    I am dealing with issues, and need help understanding. Why do we have to label our children in order for them to get them the help they need. I have 4 kids, one with Down Syndrome who received her diagnosis a couple of days after birth. She is also the only one not in the gifted program. The other 2, who are extremely creative, and considered very bright, had to have a diagnosis in order for them to complete the work they didn't finish during class, at home or after school, rather than being punished during recess. I have one that due to awesome teachers has escaped from being labeled, until this year in 10th grade. It is not that we were not aware, we were reassured that although it would cause difficulty, there wasn't a test for it, and that teachers can easily spot it and offer suggestions for their class. This has been the case until recently. His issue? Dysgraphia, which we have always called "Doctors handwriting". An issue that has been blatantly obvious, needs a diagnosis so he can have an alternate means of showing his work in algebra 2. I am having trouble with this because even though a diagnosis exists now, and I'm sure he will have no difficulty receiving it, is it necessary. My children can not be the only ones this is happening to. My concern is that there is no such thing as normal, and we all have weaknesses. Kids already struggle with being different, while trying to fit in. My parents use to console me and reassure that there was nothing wrong with me, but I have to tell my children the opposite. I am struggling to understand how this diagnosis, at this time, will help, rather than hurt.

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    #212695 - 03/15/15 07:53 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    Tinker Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/10/14
    Posts: 8
    The reason I would encourage you to go ahead and get a diagnosis now is that it will be required in order to receive accommodations during SAT / ACT testing. This is one thing that I did not consider for my own child and her test scores reflected it.

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    #212696 - 03/15/15 08:23 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: whereditgo
    Why do we have to label our children in order for them to get them the help they need.


    Because you are dealing with bureaucratic systems that need labels.

    That's pretty much it.

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    #212698 - 03/15/15 09:00 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    ljoy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/28/11
    Posts: 269
    What Jon said.
    Every time I try to put my square-peg DD12 into the round-hole public school, we end up with a new round of testing to prove that there's something wrong with her. When she leaves, the need for diagnosis magically disappears.

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    #212699 - 03/15/15 09:56 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4959
    Originally Posted By: whereditgo
    My concern is that there is no such thing as normal, and we all have weaknesses. Kids already struggle with being different, while trying to fit in. My parents use to console me and reassure that there was nothing wrong with me, but I have to tell my children the opposite. I am struggling to understand how this diagnosis, at this time, will help, rather than hurt.
    Diagnosis merely names the weakness so that appropriate supports and accommodations can be made while the child is in school, so that the child is not deprived access to a full education. It does not mean that there is something "wrong" with an individual, it merely names the weakness and also helps point to known work-arounds, supports, accommodations, and helps the individual learn to compensate for this particular weakness if it is one which may be carried through life. Knowing that others have the same weakness can help a child understand that they are not alone in their struggles, but rather they are in good company and can still achieve success.

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    #212700 - 03/15/15 10:25 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    whereditgo,

    Dysgraphia isn't "doctor's handwriting". Please understand, I have relatives who are doctors (several), relatives who aren't doctors and have sloppy handwriting, and a ds who is dysgraphic.

    Why do we need labels? We need diagnoses, not labels. We can think of them as labels, or we can think of diagnoses as a way to describe and define to other people what the issue is that is causing a challenge. Why do other people need to know *what* is causing certain behaviors? One example you mentioned above was a child who is punished for not completing a written assignment during class by being held in from recess. Another example is a child who doesn't score as high as they are able to because their slow handwriting prevented them from completing a test that is timed. If a teacher was going to arbitrarily decide that they'll let student X have extra time on a test because he has slow handwriting, then what does that same teacher do when the parent of student Y asks for the same thing, but the teacher doesn't think student Y really has slow handwriting and just wants extra time to go over the test and try to get a better grade? This is basically what has happened with SAT/ACT testing over the years - the diagnosis is necessary because there are people who will request accommodations who *don't* need them.

    That's one reason diagnoses are needed and one way in which they are used. It's also what you'll probably see pop up as the *first* reason when you ask around on forums like this. JMO, I think it's an important reason, but not *the* most important reason. The important thing, from my perspective, is understanding *why* handwriting is slow or sloppy or whatever. It's important to understand why our children struggle with a behavior or to complete a task or whatever it is that is keeping them from being able to function to their ability inside or outside the classroom.

    So back to the idea of "doctor's handwriting". Yep, doctors seem to have sloppy illegible handwriting (although there is one dr in my family who has beautiful handwriting). Plus often I think that the "sloppy handwriting" is simply happening with drs because when we see them write, they are in a hurry writing a prescription as the last thing during an appointment, their brain has headed on to the next patient they'll be seeing and no one is expecting them or asking them to write neatly. Dysgraphia isn't the same thing as "sloppy handwriting". Dysgraphia is a neurological condition in which there is a disconnect between the brain and the hand that causes a person to not develop automaticity in handwriting, which is very different than "sloppy" handwriting. Anyone can have sloppy handwriting, whether or not you know how to form the letters. For most of us, forming letters becomes second nature after just a bit of instruction and practice. For a person with dysgraphia, it takes a *lot* of practice, and automaticity sometimes never develops. For instance, my ds (15 years old, having been through handwriting OT and countless years of practice in school, can not remember how to write in cursive and will tell you that he "likes writing numbers better than letters because there are only 10 numbers to remember how to draw"). He has been through spells (particularly after handwriting OT and after learning how to write cursive) where his handwriting was very legible. His 5th grade teacher was constantly trying to tell us he wasn't dysgraphic because his cursive writing was so neat and easy to read. His handwriting now is nowhere near that legible, but fwiw, I have heard of dysgraphic students who do develop legible neat handwriting.

    What truly dysgraphic students don't typically develop the ability to compensate for is the impact of dysgraphia on working memory. While a dysgraphic person is using handwriting all of their working memory is used up simply by figuring out how to form each letter. There is nothing left over to think about spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc, and the really big impact is in the ability to get their thoughts. Most dysgraphic will have a notable difference in the quantity and quality of their "writing" if you compare what comes out with handwriting vs a verbal response.

    Which brings us around to the whole idea of why does a diagnosis matter? I mentioned understanding the root cause of what is causing an observed challenge. If a child was dysgraphic, for instance, and if every teacher that child had thought, ok, I"ll give him more time to finish his work, or I"ll do my best to try to read what is written and not count off for handwriting, that may seem like "enough" but it's missing the point. The child has missed out on the chance to learn how to use accommodations which will let him/her communicate fully, which eventually is going to cause both frustration for the child and most likely cause them to fall below where they could be in school due to their true potential.

    Most importantly, diagnoses give the people with the challenge an understanding of why something is difficult for them. It may seem like you're saddling your child with an uncomfortable label, but ultimately it's the *challenge* that causes frustration and possibly loss of self esteem, not a label that's attached to it. The diagnosis/label provides understanding. Pretending it doesn't exist by not giving its "label" won't make a challenge disappear and won't make other people not notice that there is something "different" about a child.

    Last thing, your ds is a teen now and in high school. It's not easy trying to help a teen accept that they might have a challenge or be different. The thing is, not everyone gets diagnosed when they are young, but it doesn't mean they haven't lived through years of wondering why their handwriting is "slow" or why they struggle with getting their thoughts out or why they feel different from other kids. I'll end with the example of a relative of mine who *isn't* a doctor, but becoming a doctor was her dream. The thing is, she's dyslexic, and she compensated so well for so many years in many ways without a diagnosis that she was able to go all the way through college with amazing grades and professors who loved her and recommendations galore for med school, but she always ran out of time on the verbal portions of standardized tests. She didn't get into med school because of that, and by the time she, as a young adult out of college finally realized that she could get a diagnosis, she also was no longer in school and also didn't have the $ for a private diagnosis.

    polarbear

    ps - one other reason for a diagnosis - by the time a student is in high school (here), the school staff expects them to be advocating for themselves, not having a parent step in when there is an issue. Having the diagnosis and understanding it makes it much easier for my ds to advocate for himself.

    pps - I wrote everything above specifically about dysgraphia - I am not sure if your ds has actually been diagnosed, or it's being assumed he's dysgraphic? If he hasn't been diagnosed, I'd suggest you pursue a diagnosis either through the school or privately asap. He won't be able to get extended time etc on the ACT/SAT without it, and even with a diagnosis at this point in time it might be tough. The ACT/SAT sites request documentation showing a history of accommodation, so you may want to go back and get written letters from teachers in the past who have accommodated and who believe he needs extra time.

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    #212701 - 03/15/15 10:25 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: indigo]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: indigo
    Originally Posted By: whereditgo
    My concern is that there is no such thing as normal, and we all have weaknesses. Kids already struggle with being different, while trying to fit in. My parents use to console me and reassure that there was nothing wrong with me, but I have to tell my children the opposite. I am struggling to understand how this diagnosis, at this time, will help, rather than hurt.
    Diagnosis merely names the weakness so that appropriate supports and accommodations can be made while the child is in school, so that the child is not deprived access to a full education. It does not mean that there is something "wrong" with an individual, it merely names the weakness and also helps point to known work-arounds, supports, accommodations, and helps the individual learn to compensate for this particular weakness if it is one which may be carried through life. Knowing that other have the same weakness can help a child understand that they are not alone in their struggles, but rather they are in good company and can still achieve success.


    ITA to everything indigo said smile

    polarbear

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    #212702 - 03/15/15 10:32 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: ljoy]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: ljoy

    Every time I try to put my square-peg DD12 into the round-hole public school, we end up with a new round of testing to prove that there's something wrong with her. When she leaves, the need for diagnosis magically disappears.


    ljoy, I think most of us with high ability children, children who have no challenges as well as children who have some type of challenge, find that fitting our kids into public school is far from ideal and often quite difficult. Public school is, by necessity, designed to educate a large number of individual children to an average goal with limited $. Very few kids actually find an ideal "fit" in a public (or private) school, and most parents have to settle for less than ideal with any brick-and-mortar school. That has *nothing* to do with whether or not a child has a disability, which is a much different thing than trying to find the appropriate educational environment that meets a child where they are intellectually and allows for maximum intellectual growth.

    The ironic thing about public schools and children with disabilities is - they are *often* the best place to be because they are required by law to provide appropriate accommodations and instruction to children with disabilities.

    I probably haven't explained this well, but as a parent of two children who are both intellectually gifted and also have disabilities, it's simply not the same thing as saying "my child doesn't fit here therefore I should test for a disability". My kids' issues extend outside the classroom, outside any classroom, and they don't go away just by finding them a gifted classroom or better overall intellectually challenging classroom.

    Hope that makes sense!

    polarbear

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    #212704 - 03/15/15 10:43 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    Cookie Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/28/14
    Posts: 599
    The other option is getting the fun labels of "s/he is so smart if only s/he weren't so lazy (unorganized, slow, defiant, distracted, unmotivated, etc.)". If people don't have a name for a problem then obviously the child just isn't trying hard enough or putting in the effort.


    Edited by Cookie (03/15/15 10:44 AM)

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    #212705 - 03/15/15 11:00 AM Re: Why do we have to label our children? [Re: whereditgo]
    DeeDee Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/16/10
    Posts: 2498
    Technically, they don't need a diagnosis to get services through the public schools under the "response to intervention" model: only documented need. Unfortunately, most schools don't follow this process properly.

    I would say that you can see labels as a "bad thing" (marking a lack of some kind) or you can see them as a means for understanding strengths and weaknesses. DS told me that he was very relieved to know there was a name for the things he struggled with-- that it wasn't a moral failing, but something that came from how his brain was made.

    Do you object to the "gifted" label as well as to disability labels?

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