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Labeling Your Child

I believe a child in my classroom may be AS. Should I discuss this with his parents?

My Opinion:
In my opinion, a label serves two positive functions and two negative functions.

Positive #1 -- a label can help the child get needed services. If this child is already on an IEP, is he receiving the services he needs to improve? And if not, would a label help him qualify and receive additional services that he might need? A generic label, or no label, may not allow the IEP team to identify needed methods or services, or may not allow them to offer those services for that child. Many times a label can help identify services and methods that may be more appropriate for his education, or help him qualify to receive those services.

Positive #2 -- a label can help the child and his parents to understand more about him, to let them know he is not stupid but has some difficulties and is not alone. This can also help them to research different services that may help him. But understanding yourself is a good goal, in and of itself.

Negative #1 -- a label can cause other kids and even adults, to treat the child as a "lost cause", as not worth attempting to educate, because the child will never improve, "it is a lifetime disability", "don't waste your time on that kid", etc. And at the far extreme, the child may be considered as less of a human being.

Negative #2 -- a label tends to follow the child for the rest of his life. Other people sometimes tend to see only the label and not the person standing in front of them. It can be very limiting to future opportunities, depending on what the child might like to do later in life.

So I would say you have to determine whether the label will provide a benefit per positive #1 or #2 above. And if that benefit would be outweighed by a detriment per negative #1 or #2 above. But personally, what you might want to consider is discussing this with the parents and letting them know what the label might accomplish, both for services and personal understanding, and then tell them the potential detriments, and let them decide for themselves what they would like to do for their child.

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