Why 'Labels' Can Provide Access to Adequate Supports for Kids Who Need Them

Labels can be convenient. They describe things and help them fit neatly into a descriptive box. But there can be a few problems with labels and kids with disabilities. Our kids often don’t fit neatly into that descriptive box. Even if you find a good descriptive box, there is a lot of prejudice and misconceptions about those boxes.

Some parents worry about getting their child diagnosed and worry about the effects having a “label” may have on their child. They may be afraid it will mean their child will be treated differently, or that because of the label they will never be allowed to be everything they are capable of being.

I once had a little boy in a class I taught at church and there was clearly something different about this child. The parents had him evaluated, but refused to share with anyone what his diagnosis was. This was a problem. If we knew, we could have been much better equipped to help this little boy and provide the appropriate supports. But instead, we could only guess, and our guessing frequently didn’t yield success.

Whenever I find a parent asking, “Should I get my child tested? Should I share the results?” My answer is almost always a resounding, yes! A diagnosis gives you information. Your child may benefit from therapy. A diagnosis will help give you access to the needed supports or a different kind of help. Without the diagnosis, getting the services or needed help can be much more difficult.

My daughter has a diagnosis of dyslexia. Without having a diagnosis, understanding how to help her learn to read would have been much more difficult. It didn’t just affect her reading either, because the first couple years the school relied heavily on word problems to teach math. My daughter was convinced she wasn’t any good at math, when the exact opposite is true. Because I knew there was an actual difference in the way her brain processes reading words, I was more patience with her struggles. I also knew I needed to learn how to advocate for her in school, so that she can reach her potential, and so that the teachers could understand how to better teach her. I want my daughter to reach the great heights she is capable of. I just needed to figure out why things were so hard for her, to help her do that. Getting the diagnosis helped me do that.

Does she have a “label?” Perhaps, but she isn’t the label. Labels are for things, not people. People are so much more than a diagnosis or a label. We all need to look beyond the label to see what each person is capable of.

A version of this post first appeared on An Ordinary Mom.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image by Grandfailure

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Dyslexia

Shark Tank TV show logo.

'Shark Tank' Highlights Talents and Success of People With Learning Disabilities

Lauren Appelbaum is the communications director of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. To the everyday viewer, the television show “Shark Tank” seems like the opportunity for a budding entrepreneur to pitch an idea to a panel of sharks that either will or will not bite. However, the [...]
Girl writing in school.

Why I Spoke About Special Education at the March for Public Education

My name is Leslie Templeton. I stand here as a student in the honors program at a top university, reading to you a speech I wrote myself. That is big for someone like me, because I am not your average student. You look at me, but you can’t see my struggles. I stand before you [...]
Dyslexia letters spelled out on a table with the E backwards.

10 Things Growing Up With Dyslexia Taught Me

1) You’re not “stupid”: For a long time, I thought I was “stupid.” No matter how much I learned and how well I could read or speak, I believed it. By second grade I had been tested and told I had what I am told is called core dyslexia — reading, writing, verbal, auditory and [...]
Father helping daughter with homework.

How I Let Go of Guilt Over Missing My Daughter's Dyslexia

Three years ago, I didn’t feel I deserved the handcrafted gift my 8-year-old daughter made me for Father’s Day. It had been a rough school year for her. Her teachers had noted she wasn’t reading at the level of her classmates. This prompted the school to provide a reading specialist who told us that she [...]