The Power of Authority

When someone you love is sick, the doctor is the one with the perceived power to cure. When someone you love is struggling in school, the teacher is the one with the perceived power to make a difference.

Whether it is the emergency room staff or the IEP team, the ones ‘in charge’ have the power to access, to diagnose, to report and to offer suggestions for moving forward. This leaves the subject and their family in a vulnerable place. Trust is placed in the hands of the professionals. It is an awesome responsibility.

As an child development specialist and as a lay person I have been on both sides of this type of scenario and my recent trip to the vet emergency clinic in the middle of the night reminded me of how it feels to be the ‘parent.’

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The Benefits and Detriments of Labels

When children display behaviors that limit their ability to keep up in typical American classrooms they are often recommended for special testing. In a desire to figure out what holds them back from successfully completing tasks and appropriately handling emotions we have developed a litany of labels. The labels that have been created to describe these challenges can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on how they are used.

This is a call to be more conscious in the way we label and describe children. When labels are used with compassion and wisdom they can be used to create an individualized plan of cooperation between home and school, enabling a child to thrive in their unique way. Unfortunately they often create fear and distrust. When used with intellectual reasoning alone, the soul and psyche of the children may be forgotten and while the youngsters receive extra cognitive attention their inner worlds are left unattended. Many of these kids struggle not only with their original challenge but secondary layers of self-doubt and shame as well. We must always consider the whole child, not just the isolated ‘disability.’

Labels are a starting point, merely an entry into a portal of a complex inner world. As we offer tools to increase skills we want to be sure a child does not identify his sense of self by his deficit. It is vital to remind parents and teachers not to use the ‘special need’ as the overriding way we see and talk about these kids.

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Writing Disabilities and Ways to Help

A writing disability is having trouble with written expression and can range anywhere from problems with spelling to holding a pen. Writing is crucial to a child’s academic success, and knowing how to identify a writing disorder and ways to intervene can make a huge difference! Writing disabilities are often associated with other learning disorders.

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