I just read an awesome post about two successful entrepreneurs reflecting in a conversation on the negative impact of labels on children. They each shared how glad they were to have not been labeled as children even though they knew they were ADHD and Dyslexic. They see their way of thinking as an asset. (Virgin.com)
Many dyslexics have been proven to be high achieving entrepreneurs. The plane, the lightbulb, and the electric bulb exist because of creative dyslexics. There are many famous dyslexic politicians, writers, musicians, athletes, and artists who are great examples of brilliany dyslexic minds.
The men in the podcast dislike the word Dyslexia so much because they they are each gifted men making a contribution. Dyslexia has the connotation of being dysfunction, abnormal and demeaning like something is wrong. Yet, they both believe their way of thinking, precessing, and problem solving has been one of their keys to sucess in so many ways in their adult lives. Their stories have really happy endings!
Their hope is that teachers and parents can emphasize what is right about kids and what they can excel at doing. I completely agree!
The other side of the issue is that if you are going to support and help children learn how to best learn, and how to read and write essectively and have confidence in their skills it certainly helps to have a plan. Each student learns differently. A differential diagnosis and intervention plan can be an efficient tool, much more effective than trial and error or repeated failure. And yes, with it usually comes a label to help with understanding the pattern and strengths and weaknesses contributing to learning.
Fear and failure, however, haunt many students with undiagnosed learning struggles. They often feel shame, humiliation, and have limiting beliefs about themselves like I am just stupid, and fear of failure that leads to not even trying. These negative beliefs internalized are just debilitating; totally opposite from thriving, wellbeing, confidence and success which is what we all want for children.
Many, many students with undiagnosed learning or attention struggles self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, grow angry and use their alternative way of thinking to harm others or themselves because of these internalized false beliefs about being stupid, feelings of being a loser, and deep seated anger.
So“What is a Parent to do?” A Proposal my coauthor, Myrna Easom, and I wrote is with an agent right now and being sent to Publishing Houses for review. Our book deals with this question, “What am I to do?”. Having worked with students and parents for many years, we have heard that plea time after time. One of the goals in our book is to inspire and encourage parents so that they can confidently have the mindset and skillset to work with schools, teachers, family members and their child to reinforce the truth that alternative ways of learning and thinking are good and vital for society. Parents can help their kids learn differently and cope with the alternative thinking style and use it to their advantage.
Testing and diagnosis must be seen as a tool for better understanding how the brain works, and how better teaching and learning can be accomplished more effectively. Labels must be deemphasized. Learning must be emphasized. Creativity, problem solving, innovation and initiative must be emphasized. Grades deemphasized.
And finally, home must be a refuge. A safe place to feel secure, honored, respected, accepted, and loved…and understood! Let us give these gifts to our children and to everyone we know.
We all need to grow and thrive!