Answered! Top 3 Questions Parents Ask About Labels
Sometimes parents feel very concerned when they seek out or receive a diagnosis about this idea of a ‘label.’
#1. There is a whole cottage ‘industry’ of parents telling you something like, “Oh, but you don’t want a label.” You might start asking yourself, do I want one?
You might start thinking, “what kind of label is this.” Is this like a soup can label? Is this a label I can make on my label maker? Is this an address label? What is this label thing?
For that one, I have generally found that parents are pleasantly surprised when they understand this more. A good psychologist will only use the ‘label’ to explain your child’s needs to other clinical people or the school. Keep in mind, this ‘label’ and the report that you get from the psychologist are yours to share with whoever you want. You do not have to give this clinical report to anyone.
#2. Will the label change my kid? The concern here is, “well my child is so unique, I don’t want the label to change him or her?” Also, the concern might be that, “I like him the way he is. Is that label going to imply that I want him changed?”
Parents often find that the label helps not only to understand a child’s needs but to provide those supports that make life easier. That is the intended purpose. Not to put your child in a box, but to potentially get out of some of the boxes where they feel trapped.
#3. Once I have the label is everyone going to see him or her differently?
This one is a bit trickier to answer because I can see this both ways. Yes, if you provide this report to the school, teachers and specialists will think of your child’s needs differently. For example, if your child has autism, they might start thinking about social skills groups, or classroom interventions for autism. That is true. In general, I see the benefits outweigh the risk because your child may get more help with this ‘label’ in place. However, yes, people will see your child’s needs differently.
I would also say ‘no’ in that often labels somewhat reveal themselves. What do I mean? Kids with disabilities like ADHD or Autism or even significant mental health issues, may already have the attention of specialists at the school. Your child’s needs may be speaking very loudly to them, either with or without the label.
Taken together, although there are a few drawbacks of ‘labels,’ we tend to find that parents feel relieved to know what it is. They often ‘just want to know how to help him.’ Or they may be asking, “What can the school do to work with her?” The diagnosis tends to help with that. If you get a diagnosis for your child and you do not agree, that’s another discussion for another day (see upcoming blogs). However, if you get a diagnosis for your child, and you agree, we tend to notice that it opens many more doors than it closes.
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