This is an area which particularly interests me and having talked about it in lectures yesterday I decided to write this post. I feel I know a reasonable amount about it and I suspect that some people I know will have strong opinions on this.
The current system when it comes to children with special needs is to have their “condition” medically diagnosed and in many cases until this happens the child and their parents will receive little or no support. Many people might consider them a naughty child until they are diagnosed. But is this the way things should be done?
Diagnosing a child as having some kind of special need is useful to some extent. It will at least tell you about some of the characteristics that the child has and therefore how they should be treated and to some extent how to expect them to behave. But it’s with the some extent that things get tricky. One child with autism is completely different from another child with autism. Like all human beings, every child with special needs is unique. It’s clearly not right that they should be known as “the special child” but this is the trouble that labelling brings. They are always the child first.And many children will be given more than one label, which sort of end up cancelling each other out in some cases.
At least modern-labelling is better than it used to be. There was a time where special needs children would either be classed as a naughty child or given a horrific title like “imebecile” and placed into an institution for life. At least it has been done for the right reasons and not for the purpose of “eugenics”, a disgusting idea that we should take the survival of the fittest theory and put it into practice by preventing “lesser” members of our species from breeding. Whilst that might bring images of Nazi Germany to your head, the idea came from the UK and was implemented here for some time.
And now we come to the question? Should children with special needs be labelled? It might seem like a good idea but perhaps it causes as many issues as it solves. Coming up with a better system would be complicated but possible. Maybe labels could still be used to some extent but become a less important factor in a child’s life.
Personally I think that there are many issues with labels. When I began working with children with special needs I always used to find out what their “condition” was, read the label as it were. But after a while I realised that it makes little difference. You get to know a child rather than a disability. Being autistic or ADHD or whatever term you have been given does not mean that is how you are. Every child is different and having special needs is part of that.
I hope you found this little discussion interesting, let me know your opinion with a comment.