Is Thats My Boy Appropriate For An 11 Year Old Labels and Categories: Is Your Child "Special Needs"?

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Labels and Categories: Is Your Child "Special Needs"?

It’s a drama that plays out over and over again in every city in the country, somewhere between preschool and 2nd grade. The child’s teachers are concerned that the child is not performing up to standard and are asking the parents to speak with the child’s doctor. Parents are reluctant to bring up the subject in the doctor’s office and the doctor talks directly to the teacher. Suddenly, acronyms start appearing: Does the child have ADHD? How about CAPD? Maybe it’s DDS-NOS?… and the only thing parents think is “Our child is not a label.”

Not only is that thought perfectly natural, it’s also completely correct. No child is a label, and in fact assigning a label to your child will affect the way their life progresses for much of their foreseeable future. An important part for any parent to remember as they learn that their child may not be entirely typical is that a label can be—and in many cases is—a positive change for a truly troubled child.

An honest story

A man named Michael was kind enough to share his story of his struggle with a child he had who needed help:

“My name is Michael, and I spent a year insisting my son didn’t have ADHD. I didn’t believe ADHD was even real — we’d heard so many stories about how it was overdiagnosed, and so many kids were on Adderall and Ritalin or whatever — so how could my child actually have that? I told his teachers he was just a boy, just a little rambunctious, and I could deal with it.”

“Then one day, six months into the school year, his teacher called us into a meeting and she basically had a meltdown in front of us. Our son already had an IEP because he had speech delays, and they quietly used that IEP to make our my son has seven people helping him get through each school day. He’s had a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, three teaching assistants and his regular teacher… and he still couldn’t make it through most days.”

“We were blindsided, but that’s because we didn’t want to deal with the fact that our son might have problems other than his speech delay (which he easily overcame by kindergarten). So we started researching. My mother-in-law is a nutritionist, and she gave us tons of advice about ADHD and food. We tried dozens of diets, several different levels of physical intervention… at one point I was waking up two hours before school so we could put a full-sized dictionary in this four-year-old’s backpack and have him run a mile with me before he got on the school bus. Nothing. By the time he got to school, he was uncontrollable again as if he had never been exhausted.”

“Finally, two years after we first heard the diagnosis, we got a prescription. It took a few more months to find the right medication at the right level… and literally three months later, they took our now first grade. special education and put him into a real class with kids who weren’t problematic. He loves school now, and he’s testing two grades higher in math and reading than his peers.”

“In the end, having our child labeled — openly acknowledged by everyone involved as someone who needed help but did pretty well when he got it — was the best thing that ever happened to him. I’ll never regret it.”

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