Monday, April 21, 2008

Autism

Of all the diagnoses that have been thrown around concerning my son, I abhor the autistic spectrum disorders the most. They have included high-functioning autism, Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otheriwse Specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger's Disorder. The problem I have with these diagnoses is that my son doesn't have them. He has been checked by medical and psychiatric professionals who do research on these disorders as well as non-research professionals. Despite the fact that I have a file drawer filled with the results of these evaluations, it never fails that someone in the education industry will try to attach this label to my son.

Not that I am claiming my son is as brilliant as Einstein, but how many people think Einstein really needed a social skills class? Perhaps he should have been working on his social skills and forgotten about all those crazy theories and ideas that he came up with.

I realize that there is a problem of mindset. So many education professionals are seeking to help children. By assuming a child needs help, you have thus determined the child has a deficit. There are only a handful of people working in the nation's education system, public or private, that understand that this "deficit" may correlate to a gift or ability in another place. Most assume that a problem is a problem and fail to look at what else could be going on.

The problem relates to, quite ironically, the lack of education of the educators. If they had learned somewhere in their training that giftedness doesn't always correspond to the characteristics identified by the Renzulli method and could in fact be associated with a host of problems and difficulties in a normal school setting, the state of gifted education would be miles ahead of where it is now.

Instead, we take the most bright and able students and turn their gifts into disabilities, negative diagnoses and labels, and reasons to hold them back.

2 comments:

Crimson Wife said...

How many of our gifted kids have been misdiagnosed with ASD, ADD, etc. simply because they have been placed into an inappropriate learning environment?

My brother is highly gifted, visio-spatial, and high energy. Not a good combination for the very traditional public school we attended growing up. He was diagnosed with ADHD and doped up with Ritalin for years. Once he graduated high school, he was able to successfully stop taking it. I don't think he ever really had ADHD...

mareserinitatis said...

I tend to believe that Asperger's is both a catch-all diagnosis for someone who is exceptionally nerdy or exceptionally sensitive. I think nearly every engineer I know could have been diagnosed with this, so it strikes me as the medicalization of a personality type.

Bah!