Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kids Are Not Sorting Blocks

I know you usually come here for the humorous rants but I should preface to say that this one is more rant than humorous. I can only hope that you come for the comedy but stay for the stunning insight and social commentary.

As always, I continue to be concerned about our society but my latest concern is the extreme predilection for labeling children in our school system. I feel like the world has gone MAD in that everyone seems to have drunk the I.E.P. Kool-Aid (Independent Education Plan for the uninitiated).   An I.E.P. is what they give a child after they have been evaluated and diagnosed with something. The I.E.P. dictates that this child is special and needs extra time to do their work, or to take a break when necessary, or any number of ways in which this child needs to be treated differently so that they can develop properly.

Here's the thing. Not every child has ADD or Asperger's or Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Pervasive Development Disorder.  Or, they do, but they didn't have a name for it before, or a treatment.  Back in my day (says the old lady) it was called being a kid.  The one with Anxiety was "a bit nervous". The one with Asperger's was "a chatterbox" or "a daydreamer". The one with ADD had "ants in his pants."

I am certainly not saying that these disorders aren't real or that therapists aren't both talented and important. In many cases, diagnosis and treatment are both good and necessary. However, I think we are too quick to label or kids and sort them into the appropriate bucket. What ever happened to giving them a chance to mature a bit and figure out how school / life / friendship / the world works?  Sorting seems to be the path of least resistance.  The easy way out.   Stick a label on them and make it someone else's problem.

I've seen parents outraged that their child was evaluated and not given an I.E.P.   Isn't it a good thing that it was not deemed necessary for your child to receive intervention?  Doesn't that mean that the professionals don't think your child needs it?   The idea seems to be "Dammit, I pay taxes and should receive free help whether my child needs it or not!!!!"

And what ever happened to good old-fashioned (or in this case new-fashioned) parenting?   Therapists are not magicians.  They are not going to lay on hands and instill coping skills or anger management techniques into your child.  They are going to teach them through play, pictures and words. It's going to take time and not only is it within our ability as parents, to do so, it is our JOB! We are fortunate to have a wealth of information available to us at all times. Resources on the internet. Books in the library. Videos to watch. Games to play. It's our job to know our children, inside and out. It's our job to understand in which areas they need extra help and their learning style to best receive the help we want to provide to them.

It's your job to be you child's advocate.  It means knowing your child like nobody else possibly can. Yes. Sometimes that means fighting to get them the help you know that they need in the form of early intervention and an I.E.P.  But sometimes it means fighting the new norm which seems to be that nobody is normal.   It means putting in the time and effort to give your child the help they need instead of pawning it off on to a team of professionals and, in some cases, it means knowing when it's more than you can handle and getting help. Sometimes.

That's all for now.  I'll be funnier next time, I promise.

1 comment:

  1. It's about damn time someone figured this out.

    Being a parent has changed today, and that scares me to no end. It used to be a case where the school expected the parents to instill basic moral and ethical values in children, teach them right from wrong and coach them through their formative years. Now, the parents expect the schools and counselors to do it for them.

    It makes me wonder if having kids these days is a smart thing to do...