To Test or Not to Test for Learning Differences: The Fear of Labeling
Updated: May 17
Many years ago, when I first started working as a Speech Therapist in the schools, I worked with a sweet little boy who had articulation difficulties. This little boy repeatedly failed his hearing screenings and I grew worried that he had a more serious hearing loss. When I met with his parents I voiced my concern and the father said that they had already taken their son to an Audiologist and the Audiologist recommended hearing aides. I smiled and said that was wonderful, when could we expect him to get them put in? The child's father looked me right in the eyes and said they were not going to give him hearing aides because then he would stand out and be teased in the classroom. He would be labeled.
Over the last 20 years I've worked with many different children and their parents. One concern that I have heard over and over is, "I don't want my child labeled." One thing I think many parents don't realize, is that children label themselves.
A child struggling in the classroom knows he or she isn't doing well and will more often than not label themselves as "stupid" or worse. My poor little student who didn't get hearing aides knew that he sounded different, and so did the other kids in the class. Luckily for him, the kids in his class were really nice and didn't tease him for his articulation issues, and wouldn't have teased him about hearing aides either.
Most children are relieved when they are tested and find out that they have a learning difference. The then get help and support and learn that they aren't "stupid," they just learn things differently and at a different pace. They also find out they aren't the only ones, and that other kids are also getting help.
The sooner you get your child tested for any suspected learning disability, the better, especially for Speech and Language. The time when children's brains are learning language the most intensely is from birth to age eight. The sooner you get your child the help and support they need, the sooner they will learn the skills they need so they won't need any more help and support!
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