Why does my child need a diagnosis?
- “I don’t want to label my child.”
- “Teachers are biased against diagnosed children.”
- “My son doesn’t act like most kids with _________ (particular diagnosis).”
These are statements we hear on a routine basis, and they are all valid points. Any diagnosis that a child or adolescent receives may have a certain stigma to it; this is human nature. The goal of this blog is to help identify the importance of obtaining an appropriate diagnosis for your child.
How a diagnosis can help your child:
First and foremost, an appropriate diagnosis will help explain and answer the “why” questions you may have:
- Why does my child continue to struggle to read?
- Why is it impossible for my child to sit still?
- Why is it that my child cannot make or keep friends?
Once we identify the “whys,” we are on our way to solving the problems. An appropriate diagnosis is intended to help develop the most effective means of intervention. If a child is diagnosed with dyslexia, we know that traditional teaching of reading and phonics may not be effective. We would know the best outcome can be achieved by utilizing an empirical approach consistent with the disorder at hand.
All interventions, whether we are engaging in occupational therapy, speech therapy, cognitive behavior therapy or applied behavior analysis (ABA), need to be shaped by the child’s diagnosis. Research-based interventions define expectations for the child depending on the classifications. If we have a child with dyslexia, we would prefer to use a multi-sensory approach to reading, such as the Orton-Gillingham reading program.
A diagnosis will also help identify future hurdles that one might expect from a child. The diagnosis serves as the framework for expectations for later development. This way, we can create preventative measures for the child and not have to rely on failure to dictate when we should intervene. For example, if we diagnosis a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when he is in first grade, we would likely expect him to struggle in third grade and beyond with more complex tasks that require organization, planning and integration of multiple sources. We would hopefully be aware of this possibility and ensure that the child can cope with the above tasks when they fall upon him or her.
Does a diagnosis cause bias? Absolutely. A diagnosis can create stereotypes or expectations about how one should act or behave. How is this combated? We provide information and education about the specific child’s concerns; just having a diagnosis alone is not enough. It is much more relevant to express to all helping parties the child’s specific areas of strength and weakness.