Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 | This is a great article, but the language for failure starts much earlier than the article suggests. In order to receive special education early childhood services from San Diego Unified or continue services past age three with the San Diego Regional Center, children must be branded with codes for services. Despite the fact that my son has the second-highest occurring genetic anomaly after Down Syndrome (22Q 11.2 Deletion), and despite that there are over 80 proven medical problems and delays associated with this syndrome, he still must have the label of “mental retardation” to continue receiving services with the Regional Center after age three, and “other health-impaired” paired with “severe nonverbal learning delay” to receive services from the school prior to kindergarten.

Some practitioners have even instructed us to “take the label” to get the services we need for our kids. The labels are wrong and defaming. Pre-kindergarten services are available to get children kindergarten-ready as a benefit to the student and the other students who might suffer at the hands of his or her delays. Why do we need a ridiculous label to define what is obvious to any teacher? Preemptive help prior to kindergarten is always beneficial to all involved.

Labeling also promotes what we parents of younger children like to call LES, or Low Expectation Syndrome. You see the label; so you don’t expect the child to perform at a higher level than the preconceived notion of what they can achieve. Growing up, if a child doesn’t hear enough positive language, they may come to believe they cannot graduate from school or not achieve what others can. Starting off with a label like “mental retardation” isn’t good for anyone. Even the least intelligent among us have feelings and self esteem too.

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