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My kid’s not broken they’re just different

It is the tragedy of our society that we frequently perceive children as ‘broken’ because they don’t behave or learn as most children do. We are quick to want answers as to why child x or y is not like the average child. Wanting to understand why a particular child struggles with behaviour or learning is not in itself bad. And it can be really helpful, if not essential, in matching support to needs. But in our need to understand comes the ‘labelling’ of children with diagnoses that suggest that they have failed to be like everyone else. At its worse this can lead to negative stereotyping; a culture of low expectations and excuses; bullying and perhaps most damaging of all low self-esteem and self-image for the individual with the diagnosis. I say ‘at worse’ because it doesn’t need to be this way.

Still a star

We need to embrace a wider understanding of the more subtle differences between us all. We have slowly learnt to respect and celebrate the differences of gender, race, culture and age and understand how our society is enriched by these differences. Now we must do the same with our differences in learning styles; concentration and focus thresholds; our individual cognitive profile of strengths and weaknesses; our interests and disinterests, our social confidence and the unique way each of us perceives the world around us through the highs and lows of our sensory system. This may seem a long and impossible list but it barely covers our differences.