Do Labels Hamper or Enhance?
Your child is unique and the way she learns is also unique. All children have skills they are good at and skills they find challenging. Therefore, why do we say, “He has this label, so we’ll place him here and give him these therapies?” Or, “She has this diagnosis so we will teach her this way.”
When it comes to a child’s educational experience, I believe ALL children need to have lessons tailored to the way they learn best—whether the instructor is the teacher at school, or the parent at home.
If your child has been given a label, it’s important to think beyond it and:
zero in on your child’s distinctive abilities, and areas of difficulty,
gather information about the way your child relates to and experiences the world,
detect if your child is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner,
take into consideration your child’s sensory issues, and
determine what triggers your child’s anxiety, and causes your child stress.
Look at the world through your child’s particular lens and how he experiences the world around him. Use that exclusive perspective—autistic or not—to customize your parenting and teaching to it. This is extremely important to help your child blossom!
- Your child may have a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), yet she can learn how to master a new skill if her sensory issues are considered when trying to teach her.
- Your child may be diagnosed as autistic, but he can overcome social challenges with a customized approach to help him learn how to make friends and keep them.
- Your child may be identified with ADHD, but she can acquire strategies to help her stay focused with some tailored assistance.
- Your child may be labeled with an anxiety disorder, but he can learn to manage his anxiety with the time and patience required to master specific coping skills that will work for him.
Any child can experience successful learning regardless of the label assigned.
Yes, labels give you information about what is going on, and a diagnosis will get your insurance to kick in and pay for therapies—if you live in a state or country that provides good services and has good benefits. But to help any child maximize her potential, and become the person she is meant to be, you simply need to focus on her skill set and build upon it, while taking into consideration her challenges, and finding a way for her to conquer or compensate for them.
I firmly believe that parenting is less about ‘what to do’ and more about ‘how to be’ with your child as you parent.
If you concentrate more on ‘how to be’ with your child – how to relate, how to really connect – then on the label your child has been given, you set the stage for security which leads to life long learning and success. Your child may turn out to be very different but if you have customized your teaching and your connection, your child will feel safe and secure in who he is and confident enough to effectively pursue any path he desires, regardless of abilities. What could matter more than that?
Never allow the labels others place upon your child to determine who she is because it will never sufficiently encapsulate the intricacies of her amazing and magnificent human potential – the possibilities are limitless.
This article is an excerpt from Autism Parenting: Practical Strategies for a Positive School Experience – Over 300 tips for parents to enhance their child’s school success. To read more about helping your child blossom in his or her educational setting, simply click here to access the book.
** If there are any dad's who have a different perspective or something to add, PLEASE contact us here as we welcome your valuable input!
Connie Hammer, MSW, PCI Certified Parent Coach® and author of Autism Parenting: Practical Strategies for a Positive School Experience - Over 300 tips to help parents enhance their child’s school success. Hammer coaches and supports parents facing the challenges of raising a child with autism, or other special need, by helping them deal with the diagnosis and empowering them with time saving tactics and resources to positively impact their child’s potential. For more information visit www.conniehammer.com
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