by Wendy Young

Many parents can be quite reticent to label their child with any learning difficulty or emotional disregulation. Parents often feel a deep sense of sadness because their child is struggling, or because perhaps they cannot solve this for their loved one. In some cases they are too proud to admit or accept that their child could be a-typical and they prefer to ignore it, hoping that their child will just outgrow the issue.

I prefer to advise what I think is a better option. Find out what the “label” or diagnosis is and then use it to help your child get a set of “tools in their tool box” so that they can learn about themselves and grow in understanding. They need to develop the skills they need for “doing life” with their particular set of challenges.

In other words, let the label define the situation, but not confine the child. The diagnosis is simply a part of the journey and a stepping-stone to growth.

For instance, a child who is diagnosed with Asperger’s or is on the autistic spectrum (ASD) may be grateful to know why they are finding social interactions so hard; why they seem to either say the wrong thing in a group or end up saying nothing and then fret about it.

If they know that it is part of their diverse neurological wiring, they may be able to find ways to improve their pragmatic social skills. A parent may be encouraged when they understand that the child’s routines and special interests are completely normal and typical of individuals with that the label. They can then help the child to stretch themselves gently so the child can learn to be more flexible with time management or learn to not only talk about their one special interest.

Likewise if a child is struggling to read, or is being “overtaken” in this skill by a younger sibling, if he knows that he has dyslexia, he can understand that it is going to be more challenging for him to achieve this skill.
This knowledge will help to grow his character and enable him to embrace hard learning curves later on. In other words, they will know they are not “stupid” which sadly, is a word often used by children in school in the school system, when a classmate makes slow progress.

I do not think that every child needs a label. There are many neuro-typical people in the world, therefore a parent needs to make sure that there is not just a developmental delay which the child will catch up on with consistent attention. In other words, do not rush too soon to the professional.

For example, we had a child who switched their B and D for a long time but this was not dyslexia, with practice and time, she went on to being an excellent master of reading and writing. Some children and teens will need the help of professionals going forward.

This next article focuses on tips for choosing the right one for your family.