As some of you will know I have started a new website to collate as many SEN posts as I can for our collective use. While reblogging this morning I happened upon @Cazzypot’s blog ‘Labels, are they always the answer?’ See post here I read this with interest. She published it in March. I’ve no idea how I missed it but I did, and for that I’m sorry because I would have liked to join in a debate about it.
Here are my views. As a special school teacher I do not agree with labelling children. In my school it is inappropriate. None of our teachers pay any attention to labels. I believe that all children are different and should be treated as such. If we take a group and label them ADHD or ASD then we are taking away their right to individuality. We would be categorising them and in grave danger of treating them according to that label. As we all know, this then escalates in to a good old fashioned self fulfilling prophecy and the child takes on those behaviours to an even greater extent. Again, as we all know Autism is a spectrum, a huge spectrum! I wouldn’t expect to deal with a child at either end of the spectrum in the same way. That would be very wrong of me.
As a teacher of children with various additional needs I don’t look at labels at all. To me they are totally irrelevant. I learn to know the child in front of me. I learn what makes them tick. I learn the triggers that have the potential to make the child explode in sheer temper and I learn what makes them smile with sheer happiness. These are the things that are important to me, not the label. Once I’ve learned to understand the child I am then able to work out the best way to help them deal with their behaviour. Calling a child ADHD does nothing to help the parents who can’t take the child out because they can’t behave in public. They need strategies to help them cope with real life. These strategies will be different for every child.
I agree with @Cazzypot that labels are useful for mainstream schools in order to help them secure extra funding and resources for the child who quite possibly shouldn’t be there in the first place. Once they arrive at a special school a label becomes inappropriate. It is my job and @Cazzypot’s job to find the best way to help that child deal with their own behaviour. Labelling them ADHD or ASD or whatever you like doesn’t help with that task.
I’d welcome people’s thoughts on this.