There’s nothing wrong with me! (Embracing the quirky)
It never ceases to amaze me how many children I see each week who have been branded with one label or another. There are your standard ADD, ADHD, APD, CAPD & AMD’s. There’s your ED, NLD, ODD, PDD, AFD and AMD’s. Then we have less common Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Dysnomia (believe me when I say that there are many, many more). Obviously there are children out there with very real problems preventing them from functioning fully in a class room but where has this enormous growth in disorders come from and who is it driven by?
Is it the teachers who no longer know how to manage multiple personality types or learning styles, the parents who need to rationalise why their child does not fit into a predetermined mould or is it the professionals cashing in on the insecurities of those parents whose children are just ‘a little bit different’.
We have a saying in Victoria Carlton Programs and it is ‘embrace the quirky’. Children, like adults, are all unique but somewhere along the line, unique has become bad and these children have become problems that need to be solved, disorders that need to be diagnosed and something that needs to be fixed.
When was it decided that all children had to think, act, learn and behave in the same way? Why is there no room left to be different, individual, quirky and just a little bit odd? Anybody who is the parent of a quiet, well behaved child knows that compliance and silence does not equal understanding or higher levels of ability and I can say with all certainty that the quirkiest children are often our most gifted, creative and brightest but they do not fit the mould. They come outside of the box, they challenge us, question us and often exasperate us but does that mean there is something wrong with them, a deficit or flaw waiting to be diagnosed.
It honestly breaks my heart to hear a child say “I can’t do that because I am (or) I have….”and then they are shuttled between one specialist or other to receive another label or another diagnosis. Energetic five year old boys who don’t sit still during mat time have ADHD, creative children who don’t colour in the lines have fine motor issue, introverted children who daydream in class, have auditory processing problems.
This problem is not exclusive to our children either but also effects parents, who are being led to believe that their one of a kind offspring is somehow faulty, which then keeps this perpetual wheel of diagnosis and testing turning. As parents we are often insecure but we are the ones who know our children best and we should not be afraid to use our voices and say that being different does not equal something wrong that normal is not a one size fits all mould used to compare children against each other.
That child who is obsessed by potatoes, only ever writes about Komodo dragons, is better at math than English, would rather run outside than tell news, talks a lot in class, doesn’t like poetry, forgets what the teacher just told them, can’t sit still for long, repeats the bad language they hear their parents use, only wants to colour in green etc etc etc……..they are all ‘normal’. Let’s all try, not only to embrace but also to celebrate the quirky and stop telling our children that there is something wrong with them!