We are a society of labels and the school system is no different. Parents love to hear when their child is labeled “Gifted” and cringe if their child is labeled “Special Needs.” I’m writing this to help parents overcome their disdain for the “Special Needs” label. If you have been told by your school that your child should be tested for Special Education services, then your child is most likely Not Able to access the curriculum in school successfully. If that is the case, then you as the parent have a responsibility to find what is going on with your child; even if that means he/she could be given the label of “Special Needs.”
As an advocate, I have heard from many parents who have been told by their school to have their child tested for Special Education Services and the parent is refusing to do so because they do not want them to be labeled. If the student doesn’t receive help in their current grade, they are still passed on to the next grade because of the law “No Child Left Behind.” As time goes on, the student falls further and further behind and before you know it, they are 16 years old and still doing 7th grade math and 8th grade English. What happens then? You are short on time to catch your child up to grade level standards. When that happens, it affects their ability to succeed in college or obtain a job after high school graduation. Our job as parents is to prepare our children for adulthood; the way to do that is to address educational problems as soon as possible.
You must adopt the philosophy “sooner, rather than later”; because the educational struggles your child demonstrates in 1st or 2nd grade will not go away. As a matter of fact, they get worse because the curriculum becomes harder. The only way to stop this from happening is early intervention, even if that means your child’s records say “Special Education Services.” Always remember, it is easier to obtain services at the elementary level versus middle or high school level. Another important detail to keep in mind is that by the time the student has reached middle or high school, they may not be receptive to services because they are embarrassed. Also, if your child receives services in elementary school, by the time they reach middle school, they may not need them anymore. Again, the philosophy “sooner, rather than later” works for several reasons.
You are the best advocate for your child; making sure your child is successfully accessing the school’s curriculum is a crucial part to their road to adulthood. My suggestion to you is to focus on the label of “Independent Adult” instead of “Special Education.” Helping your child with their academic struggles is the key. If you look at the big picture, we as parents all have the same goal; to help our children obtain the skills to lead an “Independent Adult Life.”