Thursday, September 29, 2011

Writer's Workshop: Labeling

Mama Kat's (pretty much) World Famous Writer's Workshop gives us bloggers a break on figuring a topic once a week. It's been awhile since I've participated but I love Mama Kat & always read her blog. This week I'll be writing on prompt #5: What’s your stance on ‘labeling’? Were you labeled as a child? Have you labeled your own children? How do you feel about this?

 I wasn't labeled as a kid. My school didn't have a gifted program so the only labels were for those who needed extra help. I really wish I would have gone to another school with a gifted program. I think being challenged in school more growing up would have helped me (maybe) with acting out in high school. I also would have been better prepared for college.

Having two sons who have labels (autistic and speech delayed) gives me conflicting feelings. I have a good friend who HATES labels - and I understand her feelings. Labels can give kids opportunity to put down or make fun of those who may not necessarily be able to stand up for themselves. Bullying is such a major problem in schools today that it breaks my heart that some day a bully could come up to my son(s) and say something to hurt them.

Squirt's speech delay will probably resolve itself and I really do have a lot of hope that some day Moose won't even carry his label of ASD (he's on the mild part of the spectrum). That's what we work toward. However, having the labels has only HELPED my kids thus far.

Moose was first labeled speech delayed until we got his official autism diagnosis. Those labels enabled us to get our son help. I know that it's scary to hear that something is "wrong" with your precious baby. I do; it was hard for me. I also knew that if I didn't get my son help, things wouldn't improve for him. Sometimes, parents, we have to suck up our emotions (and our pride!!!!) to get our kids help.

Therapy: speech, occupational, physical, etc. They are not hand outs, they are not pity parties with adults who feel sorry for our kids. They are professionals who love your children and want them to reach their full potential. I have had many conversations with educators who tell me that my family is a breath of fresh air simply because we have gotten our sons help. Really? That makes me so sad for those kids whose parents aren't helping their children. Don't they understand that the younger they are, the easier it will be?! And it's not easy but I can't imagine waiting to enroll Moose into speech therapy for 3-4 years when those habits he has will be more ingrained. It's hard enough now! But it's like letting a kid have a pacifier until he's 7 - he'll be so attached to it by then that you'll have wished you'd taken it from him at 2 or 3 or even 4.

While my goal is for my kids to not have labels when they are older (don't have a distinct age for that goal yet), for now, those labels enable my children to reach for their entire potential. It enables my kids to have help from professionals for things that I can't necessarily do on my own.

If it helps my kids, label them.


Linda said...

I agree! I think the parents' attitude toward those "labels" is the most important thing. I was adopted and I have an adopted child. Can't tell you how many times as a kid someone found out in conversation that I was adopted and responded "Oh, dear were you upset when you found out?" As if it was a BAD thing to be adopted.

My parents taught us from our first understanding what adoption was and how precious it was to be chosen by them to be their child. We have done the same with our daughter. Therefore, being adopted is like BEING the prize instead of being something to be ashamed of for some strange reason.

Just my two cents!

Stacey said...

See, once again I have to say it... you are awesome!! I think it's great that you have been able to find such good help for your little man. It makes me wonder what is available out here. I would honestly not know where to go.

Melissa said...

I used to be one of those individuals who thought that labels were horrible and teachers only put labels on kids to get more money. This all changed when my soon to be 8 year old son came to live with us a year ago. Tank, as he is affectionately called, is globally developmentally delayed. We are working on getting a more specific diagnosis (which is not easy considering the 'wonderful' job his bio mom did on him), but for now this one allows him to receive services such as speech and occupational therapy.

I was also one of those individuals who believed that I could 'fix' anything. Like you I believed with my whole heart that I could fix all of Tank's problems and he would be able to 'function normally' in society. I am starting to realize (and am okay with it) that I am wonderwoman. Because he was in the situation he was in for so long, Tank will most likely be delayed his entire life. As a mom that breaks my heart. Not for me, but for him. But I am okay with that and am willing to do whatever I have to do to give him the best life he deserves.

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