Why you shouldn't worry about getting your child diagnosed

When it comes to learning difficulties in children, there's often an unknown elephant in the room; in most instances, specialised learning difficulties are hereditary.

Yep, that's right, chances are either you or your spouse (or your child's biological parent) also has the same learning difficulty and was never even diagnosed. It brings us to the discussion taking place today over whether or not our Australian practitioners are over-diagnosing children with learning difficulties (check out a recent article from The Conversation about it here). The article just mentioned has made many parents upset and hence, the debate has begun. My thoughts are that there are no more children with specialised learning difficulties today, than there were 20, 30, 50 years ago. We just didn't have the tools or wisdom to diagnose our children back then and to give them a chance to be seen as something other than just a 'naughty kid who doesn't listen or learn'. Was that you as a child growing up? Always referred to as the 'naughty kid'? Or 'away with the fairies'?

Today, we simply know that a specialised learning difficulty is a behaviour that

  1. we can't blame the child for - often children with a learning difficulty display off-task behaviour or 'naughty' behaviour. This is not because they choose to be that way, they simply aren't wired in a way that makes being in a mainstream school environment easy. A child not completing work or following instructions actually, neurologically, cannot do so if they have ADHD for example. They simply don't have the right brain wiring to listen to and follow an instruction due to having a poor working memory, low cognitive functioning and much more.

  2. when diagnosed, provides a REASON for why they are struggling to learn at the same speed as their peers. When we finally diagnose our children, we can learn more about the reason WHY they are struggling and can finally understand that they aren't choosing to be that way, they have no choice. The pressure is now no longer on expecting the child to perform and succeed at learning just the way they are, but rather gives us an understanding of our child and their behaviours as a result of something they have no control over. It also help gives us direction on how to help them.

  3. that can be remediated through specialised and unique help and guidance to make their learning journey a successful one. Whether medication, or identified adjustments made in a classroom, or simple changes to routines at home, or a change in diet, or even just a new understanding of your child, a diagnosis along with researched and scientific assistance can change a child's life, and make learning (and life) something that is no longer an every day battle.

As a parent you can even choose whether or not to tell your child they have a specific learning difficulty. That's up to you. However, it can be a tremendous help to your child in understanding why they are like they are; why they can't learn as easily as their best friend or struggle to listen to their teacher. Once a child (and their parent/s) learn about their diagnosis, it can be a HUGE relief for everyone and they can 'own' it.

Big picture is - don't be scared of "labelling" your child with a learning difficulty. See it as an opportunity to know your child better and being able to get the right tools that can directly help them, you and your relationship.

It is a step in the right direction to finding the right tools to help everyone concerned.

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