Thursday, July 29, 2010

Supplemental Blog: Labels and Progress

As a teacher, of course, I see lots of labels, applied to my students by students, teachers, parents, etc.  As a Christian - don't go there.  Of course, as someone who loves the weird, eerie, spooky, dark fantastic and likes to write about it: hoo-boy.  Labels galore.

As a parent, we're introduced to labels anew, however, because as frustrating as it is to endure a label pasted onto us...having them foisted upon our kids can be our worst nightmare.  We can't control that, even less than the labels given to us.  

When we think of folks labeling our kids, our "must kill everything that threatens our children" mode kicks in.  And, it's one of the biggest things preventing parents from seeking intervention for their special needs children or children they suspect of having special needs: fear of labels.

Can I say something?  If you have an elementary age/pre-schooler/toddler you suspect of having special needs, or someone close to you has recommended intervention for your child, can you do me a favor?

Get them evaluated and get intervention.   Labels, (pardon my French), be damned.

First, for the toddler or pre-school child...what label?  Who is going to apply a label to your kid at that age?  He/She has no classmates, and even if they do - preschoolers won't know the difference.  

Are you really that worried about your peers?  You know, the "Super-Parents", whose kids were potty trained, off the bottle, walking, holding down a full-time job and enrolled in Yale by age 3?  How do they compare to your kids' needs? 

Even in elementary school, most kids don't think of applying labels until 3rd, 4th grade...and even if they did...YOU are the ones who build your children up at home, teach them, mold them, encourage them to be different and independent, strengthen them, counsel them, console them.  Parents CAN grow children with defenses against labels.

It's high school that's vicious.  Worried about labels for your three year old receiving speech therapy or OT because of delayed development? Imagine what's going to happen in high school if those things haven't been addressed.

Yes, I know.  Back in the day, there were no diagnoses or intervention.  Back in the day, mothers stayed home all day and had one-on-one time with their children, not only because they chose to, but could afford to.  Unfortunately, those days are gone for most of us.

If you think you need to, get your children evaluated, and get intervention, and DO IT THROUGH YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT.  That's why you pay school taxes, right?

Yesterday at the fair I saw all the fruition of Madi's intervention.  She was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder at age three, which is on the Autistic Disorder Spectrum, only a shade away from Aspberger's.  She used to display all the classic symptoms of Aspberger's: extreme sensitivity to sound and touch and taste (vomiting?  Think: Exorcist), we had a timer we carried everywhere because she couldn't transition without freaking out unless a bell or buzzer told her to.   

We couldn't control her in public.  She hated being held, touched, restrained in any way.  She was also very, very scared.  She wouldn't go into water. She literally became hysterical at the thought of carnival rides or anything that kids her age should ADORE.  

Even the carousel. The mere suggestion of getting on it terrified her beyond reason.

She's received a lot of intervention the last two years.   Ultimately, we thank God for her growth and her development, but if it weren't for the therapists He surrounded us with, we wouldn't be where we are today.  Ultimate testament of this: yesterday at the fair.  Y'know those carnival slides that are usually taller than a house, like this one:


The minute she saw it, she simply HAD to go down.  I was pretty doubtful.  I defaulted to the old Madi, who would ALWAYS get to the top of such things and then back down, dissolving into a screaming mess if someone tried to encourage her to follow through.  I thought "She's going to flip out halfway down and smack her head or something."

To my amazement, she clambered right up those steps, sat down without hesitation, and when she went goodness.

This was not my timid, frantic, sensitive girl we couldn't even get on a carousel a year ago.  She hit the bottom giggling, laughing, hysterical in a different, good way.  It was maybe the most beautiful thing I've seen lately, knowing where we've come from.  

Afraid of labels?  Then get intervention.