Deciding on evaluation

Will an Evaluation Lead to My Child Getting Labeled?

By Virginia Gryta

If I have my child evaluated, will she get a diagnosis? I’m not sure I want her to be labeled with a disorder or disability.

Virginia Gryta

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

As parents, we want to protect our kids. It’s understandable that fear of social stigma keeps some families from seeking special education services. But there’s a flip side to this way of thinking.

A child who needs “something different” in order to learn is likely to be identified by teachers and peers regardless of whether she gets formally evaluated or labeled by the school system. In other words, avoiding an evaluation may not mean that your child steers clear of the unwanted attention.

Kids with learning and attention issues who haven’t been evaluated sometimes act up in school out of frustration because they’re not getting the resources they need to be successful in the classroom. They may develop low self-esteem or depression. Getting an evaluation may actually bring some relief, since they’ll finally understand what’s going on.

An evaluation can give a name to what is observable. This can help your child begin a healthy dialogue with you. It can also help her talk with friends and, of course, with her school.

Getting an evaluation could give your child access to supports and services that can empower her to reach her full potential. It could also give her access to a community of students who understand what it feels like to have strengths and needs that may differ from those of their peers.

One important thing to keep in mind is that many kids who receive special education services continue to be educated in a general education classroom.

There are also many well-known people with learning and attention issues who wear their labels with pride. They help others see that a disability doesn’t have to be a burden. It can be an asset. Seeing and understanding the world differently than the majority of people around you can be a unique and positive experience to share.

About the Author

Portrait of Virginia Gryta

Virginia Gryta

Virginia Gryta, M.S., teaches and mentors new teachers working toward master’s degrees and certification in special education at Hunter College.

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