Sunday, April 13, 2014

Let's Call A Spade a Spade (Special needs: to diagnose or not to diagnose) Part 2

In Let's call a Spade a Spade Part one, we talked briefly to say that there is some value to seeking help for our children, when we have some challenges of a special needs nature. If you missed it, please see it by clicking the title above.

Today, I'd like to begin to address some of the typical concerns that come up when considering this route. Today I want to cover some of the common objections, that arise from both within us, and that come from others.

Will I really get anything from a 'label'?

You stand to gain from knowing exactly what your child is facing. It's one reason I advocate having our extraordinary blessings assessed when it's clear they are struggling. We can not do right by them until we know what they are struggling with specifically. Once we know, we are free to feel the relief of knowing that we CAN HELP our children to succeed. We have first defined the problem, and therefore the paths we can take to bring relief to the situation can become a little clearer for us.

Back in science class, we learned that there are different kinds of things. Different kinds of animals, and plants. Every one of them has a name. Each has a technical name as well. A 'label', if you will. 

That fact that animals and plants have a label does nothing, except describe what we are already able to see. That they have a difference from  or commonalities with other things around them. This description does nothing to add value or take value.

 I suggest to you that it is the same with making a decision to get a term for what you already know you are dealing with. It simply describes what already 'is'. This is the beginning of the road to help. 

For me that's all the label represents. Once we know, we can journey on with more understanding, but not necessarily focusing on what something is called.  We don't need to center on the fact that there is a label after we have it, we simply need to know what we are dealing with.

I want to turn this whole thing on its' head for a moment. Think of this: Your child suddenly has an unquenchable thirst, starts to lose weight, and becomes sluggish. We usually look at a situation like this and decide that this is something that needs medical evaluation. We would want a name for it, and a course of action that we can take to bring relief. 

It should be the same with all special needs, mental illness included. Why is it, that when other factors such as attention, or impulsivity, or behaviour are involved, we are tempted to stop looking at it as a medical issue? They are all things controlled by brain function. Last time I checked the brain is not exempt as an organ of the body.  ;)

"People will treat my child differently!"
Perhaps one of your concerns is that people will look at your child, and possibly you, differently if it becomes official that there are special needs involved. 

Yes, it's possible that others may decide to treat your child differently.  I'd like to encourage you to look at Psalm 118:6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 

Yes, there are some people who are very uninformed about special needs. There are some people who will act toward you with a lack of grace and compassion. Consider though, that would likely happen even if it were not special needs related.

It's just more likely that their lack of grace and compassion would be unfairly directed to assuming that behavioural symptoms are the result of parenting skills. It is usually a refection of the person, and not a reflection on you or your child. 

We have had some difficulty in encountering this, and it can be painful. It does not, make their opinions truth, no matter how much they cause you pain. 

So please do not base your choice in this matter, or any other based on what someone else will say or do with a negative tone. 

You and your child are worth more than holding yourself prisoner to the fickle court of public opinion. If I may be so bold, I'd like to ask you why they should have so much sway, when they are most likely to leave you alone in your troubles, rather than supporting you?

"Won't a label hold my child back?"

Not at all, if you choose not to let the negative traits associated with the label define your child, and communicate that same concept to your child. There are an incredible amount of gifts that come as part of the package when your child is affected by special needs. They usually just require a little more work to let them come to the forefront, making their gifts visible to all.

You may also have a concern that others will try to hold your child back based on their 'label'. You may also have a fear that you yourself might be the one to do it. However, I want to encourage you. 

You are your child's most influential advocate. you get to set the tone for how they cope here.  You get to over rule outside influences for the positive. 

Despite weaknesses, your children will also carry with them gifts, talents, and a calling. They will still be artistic, creative, spirited, everything they were before diagnosis. You still get to reinforce values of self control, work ethic, and godliness in your children. Nothing changes about that. 

You get to inspire them to be everything God has created them to be and accomplish, despite any weaknesses or struggles they have. 

It may mean that this particular child will have to work 10 times harder than the average child to gain the same results as typical children, or that their level of functioning will always be different than typicals.  However, if you know that in advance, you can educate yourself, and others so they can overcome detrimental viewpoints.

What looks like 'laziness' or 'rebellion' under one set of circumstances, can actually be learning issues, or executive function deficits in a special needs child.  Broken down and properly handled, this can be focused in the direction of success, (whatever that happens to look like for the individual child) without making the child feel awful because they are mislabeled with a simple character deficit, and treated as 'bad' or character deficient. There are not too many things more demotivating than giving a person the impression that they are a write off. However, if you know what you're facing, it will allows you to perceive the situation more clearly.

 You get to be the reason your child thrives. You'll just get to have more tools in your toolbox to help you do it. Isn't that amazing?

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