Can we talk about labels?
Disability labels. Functioning labels. Eligibility labels. We use a lot of labels. But are they necessary?
Labels open doors. They get our children the therapies they need and the school services they need. Labels are necessary.
Recently, my daughter’s doctor told us about a unique clinic that would benefit my daughter. But she needed a certain label or diagnosis in order to be considered. That label was necessary, too.
My daughter receives special education services at school. Labels are necessary for her to get the services she needs. She has eligibility labels and codes in place that are necessary.
So, yes, labels are sometimes necessary. But as parents we often use labels that are not necessary. We often overdo.
I often hear people refer to someone as “high functioning” or as “low functioning.” These labels are not only overused, they are unnecessary and confusing. They serve to either emphasize a person’s disability or to lessen a person’s disability. They continue the segregation of individuals with disability.
Instead, let’s embrace our child’s disability that makes them unique. Let’s not further label them with a meaningless, superfluous term. Instead, let’s say what we mean.
Let’s instead discuss the specific support our child needs in order to accomplish certain tasks.
Say what you mean. Be specific. Drop these meaningless labels of “high functioning” and “low functioning.” Let’s decide to be the change. Be vocal. Be purposeful. Only use labels that are meaningful and necessary.
For more thoughts, visit this blog by Kathy Snow, Life Beyond the Label. You can read more about Navigating Daily Life on this website.
Before I had my son, I was a special education teacher. I was one of those teachers who believed that these "special" kids needed to be kept safe. After teaching in a self-contained special education class, my views slowly started to change.
Without all the legal documents, we can’t be sure our children who have special health care needs will get the care and services they need if something happens to us. Final plans are not fun, but will make a huge difference in your child’s future.
Categories: Family Support