Child DevelopmentInclusive Education

What is in a label?

Diagnostic labels specify the kind of challenges that one is facing in their daily lives. For children, these challenges are in the areas of learning, socialisation, behaviour, communication, processing of information and so on. Today, with the kind of awareness and subtle acceptance of these challenges, children are being diagnosed for challenges concerning their learning and behaviour at a much higher rate. Labels are becoming ever so prominent, and with everything in life, I believe there are positive and negative aspects to this labeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I use to be a major proponent of labeling. It was the way I believed we should start working with children with additional support needs. But over the past few years, this notion in me has gradually changed. I have come to realise that it is not the label that matters, but the child in front of me and his/her challenges. I am starting to understand that while it is an advantage to have a label in that I comprehend their needs, the crux of the matter is that when I am sitting with a particular child and learning about his / her difficulties, the person who they present is what is important.

This is definitely a topic for debate. Hence, I would like to outline some positives and negatives when it comes to labeling children. This is my way of creating conversations about what it means to put a diagnostic label on a child and I feel we should discuss this more openly.

Positives of Labeling

  • To understand the symptoms presented in front of us.
  • To move the unnecessary blame from being on the child to the label.
  • To highlight the occurrences of a particular disorder in a given population.
  • To provide the appropriate accommodations for children in a school setting.
  • To provide a sense of understanding for the parents and child on what is happening

Negatives of Labeling

  • To risk an opening into further stigmatization of the child from his/her peers.
  • To risk a focus only on the symptoms of the label and ignore the presenting concerns.
  • To increase the risk of over diagnosis
  • To risk over medication
  • To risk the child losing his/her sense of choice and blaming everything on the diagnosis.
  • To avoid taking into account, any other factors that could be responsible for presenting behaviors.

So this has been my understanding of the effects of labeling and its pros and cons. I would like to hear from you too. Do write in the comment section or you can message me on your Facebook page.

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