Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's call a Spade a Spade (Special needs: to diagnose, or not to diagnose) Part 1

I want to share my heart over the next little while on something important. It's special needs related, and very close to my heart.
 I'll try really hard not to step on any toes, because to cause pain or hurt is not my intent. I do, however, think it's time that we have a closer look at special needs diagnosis for our kids where it's appropriate.

 I sure hope I didn't just lose you there. 

 Before I begin, I have a disclaimer that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on Tv. ;) 

I'm just a mom that has walked the road with some children that fall into the ADHD  (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) , and  ODD camps (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). Most recently we added High Functioning Autism to the list of things to research.  I also have a friend dear to my heart that has children on the Autism Spectrum.  I'm also a mom that has  chosen to support these children by doing my homework and making choices in keeping with their needs.

Yes, I have children with 'labels'. No, it's not the end of the world.

My hope during this series is to first offer empathy to the parents walking this road, and second, to take the opportunity to bring understanding to the others. Others, who can not, by first-hand experience, understand how difficult it is to parent, and home school special needs children. I am a firm believer that if one becomes educated,  they can learn to offer sympathy, and hopefully a heaping helping of grace. 

The topic itself can be a bit of a landmine to discuss. 

I know all the concerns about why 'labeling' our kids is apparently a bad thing. I've heard them all. Some of the objections came from within me, and some came from others. Here is just a sampling:

"Won't people treat my child differently if they have a label?"
"Labels limit people"
"I'm against medication!"
" (insert diagnosis name here) is over diagnosed"
"You just want to live in denial that it's really your parenting at fault."
"It's just an excuse you have for your child's poor behaviour"

I've heard them all in one facet or another. 
It's hard enough to walk through this with the concerns we ourselves have as parents. 
It's harder still when we have people choose to act in ways that make our journey harder. 

Even so, we need find the courage to see past all of our reasons that would hold us back from receiving help, for the good of the kids involved. That's who this issue is really all about.

To the parents that are wondering about pursuing diagnosis for their blessing(s), I understand your concerns. 

You love your child. You want the best for your child. You've noticed that there is something different about this particular child, or children in your family. It may be that they are struggling in school, or with unwanted behaviours. 

You've gone back and forth about reaching out for help. But at least one thing stops you. You're afraid of what will happen, if a label is applied to your child. Let me challenge you to see that your child is already different. They may already be choosing behaviours that make them stand out. However, that doesn't make them any less valuable than they would be if they didn't stand out! 

I hope to present some compelling evidence in the next few posts. Evidence that can address the concerns about assessment of special needs, and to set your mind at ease about the concerns that come up.

Please join me in my next post, where I'll discuss the arguments against diagnosis, and break them down for you.


  1. We proceeded with a full Celiac diagnosis for Rylyn for the reasons you mention above, as opposed to just going "gluten-free". I get your thinking, even if mine is strictly medical instead of medical/learning. Enjoyed reading! ;) Keep writing!

    1. It really does help when we know exactly what we're facing, doesn't it?
      Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. After a miserable year of dealing with one of my kids' struggle with social anxiety which played itself out at home with incessant bugging of siblings and defiance to parents, we decided to sign up for a course about anxiety at Chedoke. (No Fear) Before that, I had hesitated to really name what was going on, especially around my son, because I didn't want him to feel inadequate compared to other kids who could handle what he could not. But what he most took away from the class, it seems to me, is less about the coping strategies that he learned there, and more about the relief he felt that the way he was feeling is a real "thing" that other people have too. Not just a nebulous flaw in his character can't be helped.

    1. Absolutely! When we find we're not alone it's comforting!
      Not only that, but it puts us in a position to realize that it's not a hopeless situation. We don't have to stay stuck in our challenges. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!


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