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Dissertation - labeling children

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by MLynette, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. I am carrying out a dissertation on the positive or negative effect of labeling SEN children with a label. Is it adviseable to label SEN children? Do we as professionals expect the chidren to behave as their label suggests e.g. autism ADHD or do we treat them as individuals?
     
  2. I am carrying out a dissertation on the positive or negative effect of labeling SEN children with a label. Is it adviseable to label SEN children? Do we as professionals expect the chidren to behave as their label suggests e.g. autism ADHD or do we treat them as individuals?
     
  3. Dodros

    Dodros Established commenter

    When I go to the doctor, I expect him to provide me with a diagnosis, which is a "label". That label triggers follow-up interventions, e.g. medication, surgery, that may alleviate or even cure my condition. At the same time I do expect the doctor to treat me as an intelligent individual, explaining the options and how I might, at the very least, learn to cope with the condition.

    The same might be true of SEN labelling. A label may again trigger interventions, specialist teaching for example, or a laptop. The label might help me realise I'm not alone the way I am, there are support groups and others with the same condition with whom I can share experiences. Yes, if I were diagnosed with behaviour difficulties, I might abuse the label by living up to the SEBD label and consciously misbehaving; that's the risk. In the medical scenario, a diagnosis of terminal cancer might either lead me to wallow in self-pity and anger or make me determined to rise above my adversity and do charity work to promote research into cancer cures. That would be my choice to make. I believe a proper diagnosis and treatment of a medical or educational need outweighs the dangers of "living up to labels".

    Incidentally, there was an article in "Support for Learning" about labelling:

    Quicke, J. and Winter, C. (1994) Labelling and learning: an interactionist perspective, Support for Learning, 9, pp. 16-21.
     
  4. Thanks Dodros. WE have a 16 year old with complex learning difficulties with a global delay (bit of a mouthful!) as a parent I have always wanted a recognised "Label". He has tendencies for autism dyslexia and dyspraxia - hence this is a subject close to my heart for my dissertation. Your analogy of going to the doctor with an illness has given me food for though!
     
  5. kaitaz

    kaitaz New commenter

    On the other hand, esp with behaviour, a label might make the parents say 'its not our fault, there's something wrong with our child' and go for mecication rather than stepping up their level of parenting.
    The child might say 'there's a reason I behave this way - its not my fault' and use that as an excuse to misbehave - even though they might be perfectly able to manage their behaviour.
    The poor behaviour mught also be masking a learning difficulty - its better to look bad than thick.
    Just thought I'd put my tuppenceworth in...
     
  6. Here is a useful and more recent paper about labelling:

    Lauchlan, F. & Boyle C. (2007). Is the use of labels in special education helpful? Support for Learning, 22,1,36-42.

    It presents a counter-argument to the medical model that Dodros supports.
     
  7. Some labels are extremelt helpful to the pupil, dyslexia or dyscalculia for example. (I am speaking from parental experience)
     
  8. In what way is a label of dyscalculia helpful?
     
  9. Thanks midgey for your comments. Part of my research will be looking at "labels" from a parental point of veiw. As I mentioned before our son's "label" is complex learning difficulties with a global delay but it use to be MLD, it changed when the LEA didn't agree with our choice of secondary school?! I have always wanted a more concrete label as a parent but I am also a Teaching Assistant in a primary school and do understand the negative side of labeling a child. A very old saying label the condition but the child?
    Thanks for paper on labeling always useful!
     
  10. On the other hand, esp with behaviour, a label might make the parents say 'its not our fault, there's something wrong with our child' and go for mecication rather than stepping up their level of parenting.
    The child might say 'there's a reason I behave this way - its not my fault' and use that as an excuse to misbehave - even though they might be perfectly able to manage their behaviour.
    The poor behaviour mught also be masking a learning difficulty - its better to look bad than thick.
    Just thought I'd put my tuppenceworth in...

    Re above
    Its very easy to blame everything on the parents, but if a child has asd, downs, learning difficulites etc to simply say they should just manage their own behaviour without helping them to llearn how to is niave.
    yes ultimatley we all need to exercise control but to expect a child with sen to behave as a typical child is to ignore their difficulties and to be honest very condescending to parents who work extremely hard to support their kids!
     
  11. Hmm, labelling children? I have had both positive and negative reactions due to labelling of my son.
    a diagnosis of down syndrome meant he was not accepted at a preschool at 2 years old even though he was (at that time) developmentally on target, other than his speech but then he was deaf as well.
    A diagnosis of ds can often lead to a refusal to allow other diagnosis such as ADHD or autism, both very common in children with ds (or at least as common as in the non ds population), because ds is ds and nothing else.
    On the other hand writing a letter to my local LEA from the far east before arriving in the country with my 4 year old son meant his assessemnt for a statement started with in days of our arrival. but as a result he received a label of SLD which I contested on teh grounds that it could potentially prejudice his educational opportunities. While I 'won' that argument at the time I was proven right several years later when he was refused entry to an MLD school on teh grounds that he has SLD (despite this being removed from his statement). fortunately I was able to appeal the decision and he is happily placed, and thriving, at the MLD school now.
    His label of ds has led to discrimination in his health treatment, a refusal (abroad) to treat his glue ear that has led to a life long problem with speech intelligibility and permanently damaged hearing, a refusal to admit that his soiling problems were medically related (despite a diagnosed and treated medical condition) until he was 10 when the surgery that would have sorted it out, normally carried out on 5 and 6 year olds with his medical condition, was finally carried out and meant he no longer soils.

    so labels are both good and bad, it can help when wanting support in school to have a specific diagnosis but it can also lead to assumptions and lowered expectations, like the senco who knew all about downs kids because she used to work in a special school (while he was at mainstream) but whose school I removed him from becasue of the problems he faced there. It can help in looking for parental help and support especially with autism and ds as they are so common and there are many support groups out there. But it can also lead to prejudice and discrimination because of preconceived ideas and assumptions about a particular label,
     
  12. With some complex conditions labelling is unhelpful to the teacher - e.g. 'autistic spectrum' may cover a huge range of difficulties and problems; as well as abilities. There is a natural tendancy to accept 'worse' behaviour from ADHD and autistic kids because they 'can't' understand normal instructions - on the other hand we have to remember that we are helping them to integrate into everyday life and that working to help them respond to normal instruction is part of our job. To do this we need to know the label - which is a positive point to the 'labelling'. I often get my best behaviour from Y7 before I know for certain who is who and who is statememted etc - their behaviour deteriorates as more and more teachers catch up with their 'needs'..... a powerful arguement for not labelling I fear.
     
  13. There you are in the middle of a strange town in, for example, France, hopelessly lost and not very good at French. What you need is someone who can tell you where to go to reach the motorway but there is nobody around. So, what do you do? Me, I'd look around for a signpost. At least then I'd know I was heading in the right direction.

    Now, call 'France' an undiagnosed SEN problem. You still have the same problem - where do you go from here? The answer is diagnosis and the 'label' it can give you. Look at that label as the signpost pointing you to the experts on what is wrong with your child and where you can find assistance.

    Wouldn't anybody want to do this? I have done so, twice. Experts refused to give us/Phas Jr his diagnosis label at three (But, his diagnosis WAS on his records) and he went on to have problems related to his ASD until diagnosis was finally given at about 10yrs old. Would that 'label' have made a difference to him or us? Possibly it would have done - we'll never know. Not getting it did cause difficulties that would have been addressed had his label been there.

    Once he had got his diagnosis it was a reason for some of his behaviour, it was not and never is, an 'excuse for it' though. The diagnosis made a world of difference to the way he was treated at school and a marked improvement in his attainment levels followed. A powerful argument in favour of 'labelling'!

    Look at the label as a signpost not a stigma and it becomes a positive not a negative thing. It at least indicates the rough direction you should go in.
     
  14. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    It could just be my LA, but a "label" can be very useful for accessing additional money. I have a child this year with ASD that was diagnosed in nursery and he came into school with a statement already sorted and we didn't have to fight for resources at all - it seemed a given. Compare with the dreadful job I had last year trying to get people to contribute to an MPA for a child with "delay" - still not sorted nearly 12 months after I started the process. The child with ASD does have some very specific support he needs, but he functions at all levels much better in mainstream school than the other child who in our experience is likely to be in a special school in KS2.
     

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