Are labels helpful or harmful? Such a question seems simple at first glance, but to sincerely answer it warrants complex reflectivity on personal past experiences. Recall your last trip to the grocery store: was the price label helpful or harmful when you contemplated putting the item into your shopping basket? It was probably helpful because you were able to decide if it was worth purchasing or leaving on the shelf. Now think about something that you do not enjoy. Suppose you don’t like horseback riding or popcorn. Subconsciously, you have labeled these items internally as “bad” for the simple fact that you personally do not enjoy them. Because of your negative view or label of these two things, will you be inclined to go horseback riding with your friend or eat popcorn at a movie theatre? Chances are that you won’t.
Disability labels work the same way. Sometimes, labeling an individual as having ADHD is helpful because it enables that child to receive support and services at school. Teachers are able to understand that a child with ADHD has trouble focusing and is hyperactive; yet such qualities are not reflective of the child’s intentions. Parents who have finally been told that their child has ADHD may feel relieved. And families may find peace in knowing that their family member is no longer a scientific mystery waiting to be solved.
Yet labeling an individual as having a disability may also be harmful. When typically developed peers learn of their classmate’s disability, they usually have preconceived misconceptions about that disability. Individuals may talk louder than necessary when interacting with an individual with special needs because they are intimidated or frightened or feel they do not know how to interact with such a person. Worst of all, outsiders may begin to view the individual as the disability itself rather than the person himself with a disability. Parents, teachers, and family members may even lower their standards for an individual with a disability if they adopt the mindset that the child “can’t help it.”
Labels are all around us. The truth is that sometimes they are helpful and other times they are harmful. Disability labels are especially hard to classify as being beneficial or detrimental because each individual is different. Teachers, family members, and the individual with a disability must take it upon themselves to explore the positive elements that a disability classification may bring while working to prevent others any negative implications that may accompany such a label.
For more information on both the pros and cons of what a classification of your child’s disability may have, it may be beneficial to contact an educational lawyer who can explain what services your child would be guaranteed and what the legal implications of a child’s disability may be. Located in Huntington, Dr. Brad H. Rosken offers much expertise in this area. Please visit the following website for more information: http://www.specialedcounselor.com/usefulLinks.php.