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Do Not Focus on the Label……Focus on the Areas of Need

February 19, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

In the special needs community, children are given labels based on their disability.  The most common diagnosis a child may be given are Autism, ADHD or Specific Learning Disability; in fact, the most common eligibility for an IEP in this country is Specific Learning Disability.  Ask yourself this question….does the label your child has be given accurately define all their areas of need?  In many cases it does not; many children may have one diagnosis but also exhibit symptoms from other disabilities as well.  Maybe your child has a Learning Disability but they also have Sensory Processing issues as well.  Your child may have a diagnosis of Autism but also exhibits symptoms of ADHD or ODD too.  For some children, they might have any of the three most common disabilities and also experience struggles with Mental Health.  I think it’s safe to say that most children have multiple areas of need. Read the rest of this entry →

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by Jess

Approximating typical: navigating the label “high functioning autism”

September 24, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

School can be a difficult place for children with autism. It can be particularly tricky for those who approximate typical, who seem almost to be like everyone else. These are the children who are sometimes referred to as high functioning (children with HFA-High Functioning Autism or Aspergers).

I don’t like the term high functioning, because I have noticed that it has sometimes come to imply or equate needs less support, or gets less understanding.

These children do not have less autism- they have the same challenges with joint attention, understanding nonverbal social and communication cues, (including body language, facial expression, tone, figurative language, and nuance), understanding the perspective of others, and getting it that expectations for social communication continually shift based on context. They can be brilliant with collecting and memorizing astounding quantities of static information, like listing every planet in the Star Wars realm, or knowing the exact day of the week for a certain date. In contrast, relative knowledge and dynamic situations can be very difficult indeed – in other words social communication and understanding the perspective of others.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Once you label me, you negate me

August 28, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

We live in a society where labels have significant importance and are meaningless all at the same time.  This strange paradigm really speaks to the radical changes needed to take place in the world before equality for all can be accomplished.

Let’s focus on the significant importance of labels with regard to the disabled (label).  It’s not lost on me that in the first three sentences of this blog I have already labeled a large portion of our population, but it leads right into why labels have significant importance in our society.  The “Big Book of Labels” otherwise known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (“DSM”) is in many ways the gatekeeper for access to proper services and accommodations.  Without that diagnosis (label) and the proper diagnostic medical code, the insurance companies will not pay.  Will not pay for therapy, will not pay for services, will not pay for equipment, and will not pay for anything.  Then there are the Schools and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act where you must meet the definition of an “eligibility or disability category” (Anyone of 13 labels) before needs can even be considered to offer help.  Let’s not forget about all of the other federal and state laws such as, the Americans with Disabilities Act (labels), Section 504 (labels) or any of the State Autism insurance laws (labels).  The way our society is set-up, it requires all of us to fight for our labels.  We have started to revel in our labels; if we remove our labels, brings a loss of services, accommodations and respect.  Just look at the debate over the new autism definition (label) for the DSM5 if you think I’m wrong.  Does changing the definition in the “Big Book of Labels” mean you no longer have the need for services and accommodations;  no, of course not. Read the rest of this entry →

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