In our society, and certainly within the realm of Special Education circles, we have a rush to label things. Labels can be good. They can help us recognize things, know about what to expect, maybe, and help us to plan. They are intended to clarify, to develop understanding, to support, can even help us to identify trends and patterns and develop new understandings.
But what happens when they don’t? What happens when the labels that we count on for clarification actually become a deterrent or a limitation? What happens when labels are used to prevent access, opportunity, and even determine the places where people have a right to be?
This is not a new idea. We can all cite plenty of times in the history of our society that this has occurred. And the sad truth is that it is likely that the future will be full of more such instances. But for now, one of the places we find this living large is in the Special Education experience, where even something as simple as a support has be qualified as an accommodation or a modification.
Now, I am not denying that a support, or perhaps many supports might be needed, or even that in their design, delivery, and intent needs to be clarified but that, in reality, is best determined through discussion and not through a labelling. The affixation of a label, in this case, makes a determination about what the need for this type of support means and makes a pre-determination about what might be possible, and no single word or category should ever do that.
So instead of taking precious time to define what a support means, let’s skip to agreeing what is needed, how it is going to be provided, and then have confidence that when provided correctly, they will lead to a path of possibility that could not have been found without it having been in place. If we could get to that place, for all kids, then I could label that as a successful step forward.
Kristin Enriquez has dedicated her life's work to children with learning challenges and helping people work together to realize each student's potential. She is the proud mother of 4 children, one of which has Down syndrome. She is not an experienced blogger, or a professional website creator, but she does "tell it like it is," is a collector of facts, and loves sharing the amazing experiences and knowledge that have found her along the way,