To Label or Not to Label? Pros and Cons to Getting Educational Diagnoses

To Label:

1. Diagnostic testing may reveal learning gaps

2. Getting a diagnosis / label may qualify an individual for help in school and tutoring services at some colleges.

3. Having a label may make it easier to explain atypical behavior or achievement.

Not to Label:

1. While diagnostic testing may lead to learning gaps / (i.e. person can’t add two digits to two digits, this person does not understand cause and effect in reading), it often limits expectations to what a person with that label typically can do.

2. Before getting a label one should find out what kind of services will be offered and how it will impact the learning of the individual. In school settings, the emphasis is usually to accommodate so the individual can fit in with the mainstream.

3. Often having a diagnosis provides little in the way of resolving the issues. Recommendations are often very limited.

While a diagnosis that affects learning often has a health component as a part of the underlying cause, we should be sure that in treating that health issue, we search its underlying cause or causes. As an example, one should remember that ADHD is not a deficiency of a drug such as Ritalin. Those types of drugs do not get to the underlying cause of the typical behaviors of ADHD. They may control symptoms, but do not resolve the underlying causes.

Before making a decision, explore alternatives that are capable of providing resolution to the underlying causes to the difficulties rather than merely provide accommodations. Since the 1930s there has been an alternative to the mainstream, the neurodevelopmental approach. This approach uses a developmental profile, looking for missing pieces in development. These gaps indicate to the neurodevelopmentalist that specific brain stimulation is required to encourage development. When that occurs, the reason why a label may have been assigned disappears.

The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (Dr. Temple Faye, Glenn Doman, Dr. Robert Doman and Carl Delacato, PhD), are considered the founders of this approach. There are a number of organizations that have developed from the ideas and experience of the Institutes. Generally parents are instructed in how to do short, frequent activities to stimulate the needed areas in the brain. Occasionally, you will find organizations with programs that will provide these services to the parents. Other organizations may offer a combination in center and at home activities. Families should determine which of these options best fit their needs and circumstances.

All of these programs fully embrace the concept of neuroplasticity that has been accepted in more recent years in the mainstream. Neuroplasticity recognizes that the brain is much more flexible in its learning capacity throughout life than previously thought. Key to success of these programs is determining the underlying cause and stimulating the brain in a specific way consistently over time.

Tips, Strategies and Educational Resources for Parents During Social Distancing

Approximately 56.6 million students attended elementary and secondary school in the United States in 2019. With the current COVID-19 global pandemic, school districts across the nation made the tough decision to close schools and move to online classes due to public health and safety concerns. Parents and caregivers have been charged with stepping into a more active role of facilitating their child’s educational learning. Below are a few educational tips, strategies and resources for parents.

1. Ensure that student is participating in all required online activities including instructional time and any additional online chats’ participation.

2. Discuss with teachers your child’s ongoing academic progress including completion of homework assignments, projects and exam scores.

3. Parents are recommended to supplement their child’s learning with additional academic enrichment activities including educational websites, at home science projects or fun learning games.

4. Parents should make sure to create an at home learning environment to help their child focus including having a quiet place away from distractions, routine homework and study times and learning materials including a computer/laptop, textbooks, etc.

5. For students who are receiving exceptional student education (ESE) services, are under an IEP or 504 plan, should follow-up with the school counselor or school psychologist to determine if there are any required pending updates or meetings required prior to the end of the school year.

6. If your child was undergoing a psychoeducational evaluation for determination of special education services, please follow-up with school personnel for a status report and to see if the school psychologist may be conducting testing over the summer.

7. If your child was unable to start his/her evaluation prior to school closing, discuss with school staff if it is possible for your child to have a private psychoeducational evaluation completed if you are very concerned about the potential delay at the start of the next school year. Please be mindful that a private psychoeducational evaluation may be at your own expense and the school does not have to accept the results or recommendations. Additionally, if submitted to the school it becomes a part of your child’s educational record. Please take all of the above into consideration before spending hundreds of dollars for a private evaluation.

8. If you would like to pursue a private psychoeducational evaluation, consider a more affordable alternative of having the evaluation conducted at a nearby university that has a university-based clinic with graduate students who can complete the testing under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist or certified school psychologist.

9. Students finishing their senior year and planning to attend college in the fall, should contact their selected college/university to determine if classes will start on time as previously outlined.

10. Graduating students already admitted to college for 2020-2021, should follow-up on the status of their financial aid including any awarded grants, scholarships or G.I. bill disbursements.

EDUCATIONAL WEBSITES:

Abcmouse- subscription-based digital education program for children ages 2-8.

BrainPOP- Animated educational sites for kids

Discovery Education- standards-based digital curriculum resources for K-12 classrooms worldwide

Funbrain- online educational games for kids

Khan Academy- offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard for self-paced learning

PhET Simulations- provides free fun interactive math and science simulations

Scholastic- offers books, literacy resources and educational solutions for kids

Scistarter- connects people to citizen science projects, scientists and resources

Starfall- reading, phonics, and math educational games and activities for kids in preschool through 2nd grade

Tutor.com/military- The program provides on-demand academic support 24/7 online in more than 100 subjects for grades kindergarten through college students. Now available at no cost to any adult or child in a DoD civilian or Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve or Wounded Warrior military family.

FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIPS:

Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)-studentaid.gov

FastWeb- online college scholarship search provider

INFORMATIONAL ARTICLES:

“20 Tips for Applying for College Scholarship”, Felecia D. Sheffield, PhD, EzineArticles.com

“Minimizing Summer Learning Loss- 5 Tips for Parents”, Felecia D. Sheffield & Shameeka T. Meredith, ezinerarticles.com

Parent Center Hub, Center for Parent Information and Resources- “All About the IEP”

Parent Center Hub, Center for Parent Information and Resources- “Developing Your Child’s IEP”

U.S. Department of Education, “A Guide to the Individualized Education Program”

Greatschools.org “A parent’s guide to Section 504 in public schools”

Additudemag.com “is an IEP or 504 Plan best for Your Child? How to Decide”

Copyright © 2020 Felecia D. Sheffield. PhD, HSP All Rights Reserved Worldwide in all Media.