Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Labels and Labeling {PYHO}

*and I’m not talking about labeling supplies 

We try very hard not to label our children. Not just because of the several dozen different studies that say it’s bad, but also because we don't want it to be a crutch, a self fulfilling prophecy. I saw this first hand when someone called my child shy and he started using that to explain himself when he didn't want to join in...well you know I’m shy.

Kids are growing and changing and everyday is a chance to learn and grow and change. Why we would try to put them in a box? Any parent knows if you try to fit your child in a pair of shoes he or she will quickly grow out of them. I feel it’s the same for labels. Can my kids be shy? YES! But you know what sometimes I am too! They don’t need every person hey meet saying, oh he’s shy huh? No, he just likes to get his bearings first.

The last two weeks have felt like an eternity. It’s been a stressful time trying to maneuver through a system that seemed to be more set on labeling my daughter than helping her. I had to take my daughter to the public school for what I thought was a speech evaluation. For a system (the public school) who teaches not to label! Everyone is equal! From the moment I filled out the forms they wanted to label us.Our family, me, her, everything had to neatly fit in a box. My stress level was sky high before we even went in. What does my mental health and if I am undergoing counseling (yes that was asked) have to do with her language skills? Talk about opening a Pandora's box of mommy angst and guilt. This is my fault. If only I had been happier when she was a baby she would speak fine.

Ridiculous? Yes, but the PPD brain is not known for being practical.

Turns out that even though when I called to schedule and gave the screener our full history and that the doctor was just a little concerned about her annunciation of certain sounds they screen everyone the same. So my daughter whose only school experience has been at small Christian schools was taken in to an enormous public school, photographed, and immediately taken from the room I was in.

She’s 4.

She got upset and cried.

She cried not totally because she was taken away from me but because the first thing they wanted to do was a hearing test. Which I prepped her for, but still she was upset “I can hear mom!” We then proceeded to one room after another of things she could do...writer her name, jump hop scotch, cutting, matching, counting. She was upset and frustrated because she didn’t understand why she was being made to do this.

I did.


Treat everyone the same. (But assign a label first!)

It was a frustrating experience. Than I had my follow up. After all that their concern? her Social adaptation skills? Oh and the speech path said she had articulation issues and should have a speech path evaluation.

If I was a cartoon that would be the point where the steam came out of my ears and my head started spinning. DUH! That was why we came in. So instead of getting her the help she needed they have smashed her self esteem and labeled her socially troubled. Did I mention I did this all alone as my husband was on a business trip? I walked out of the evaluation trying not to cry.

This wasn’t going to work. I saw my darling little girl shrinking away from me. Getting frustrated, upset, or worse, embarrassed when someone couldn’t understand what she was saying. That led to the toughest little decision we have made in a long time.

We withdrew her from school.

A school that we loved.

A school that has been so good to us.

We moved her to her brothers school (in a different town) where they have a therapist that comes to the school. She will get re-evaluated and treated in school. It will just be part of her day. Her full day. We switched from 3 days, mornings to 5 days, full day.

Oh my mama heart. It has taken a beating these two weeks. The heart does not want to be labeled, it just wants to be free to love to care. So we move forward, with less labels and hopefully more help.



Robin said...

oh, this sounds so stressful just reading about it! I cannot imagine a 4 year old having to go through all of that, or her mama either. Best wishes for things to get brighter. :)

angela said...

Oh, I hope so very much for you that the new school is a better fit. I am stressed for you & your daughter just reading that :(

May said...

One danger of labels is that over time one can forget she is working with a person and instead only sees a label. Sounds like they failed to notice you brought them a little person. Mother instinct is a powerful tool. Glad you followed yours.

Shell said...

I hope this new school is a better fit for her.

I know how hard it is when you are just trying to get your child the help that they need.

LutherLiz said...

Labels are so limiting, even our success seem to have some caveat. I'm sorry you and your daughter had to face it and I hope the new school is a better fit!

Krista @ Not Mommy of the Year said...

Oh my. What a brutal day for both of you.
It sounds like this new school is the right path for her. Good luck!

Barbara said...

This just sounds horrible! I hope the new school is a better fit for her!