Childrens Mood Issues What’s Normal and What’s Special needs

This is a highly interesting article title. I have worked with Special Needs pupils for many years and taken training courses in everything from Dyslexia to Asperger’s Syndrome. I do not mention this to “beat my own drum”, but because I do not want what I am about to say to be taken the wrong way.

My concern with the educational world – a trend that seems to be reflected in society as a whole – is that we are becoming fixated on labeling everyone and everything. If a child can’t spell, he or she must be dyslexic; if they can’t concentrate they must be suffering from ADHD, etc.

Now, labels have their value – but this does not mean we are helping a child by sticking a label on him or her rather than trying to understand the issues. If a child has a mood issue, then there is an underlying cause. We all have mood issues at some time or other. We deal with this by identifying the issue and addressing it. Children are less able to do this independently and may need support and guidance. What is essential to remember here is that a child with a mood issue is not someone with special needs, they are just being human. Nobody is doing a child any favours by prescribing Prozac or any other mood-altering drug. It may be more difficult to talk to the child to identify and work through issues, but this is what is needed.

Besides, what help does putting a label on someone actually do. The label does not – or, perhaps it would be better to say “should not” – define that person. That person is still the same complex human being as before, no matter how much the labelers like to feel they have neatly identified the problem.

Finally, although our tendency is to label, it should be remembered that whatever “category” the child’s need falls into, it can be helped and supported by good teaching. Teachers who specialise in dyslexia, etc do not practice some secret rite in the classroom. They are merely good teachers who respond to individual need. It can’t be otherwise. One student’s ADHD issues are not those of another ADHD student. It is about individuals and human beings. True, someone somewhere may have defined what constitutes “normal” when it comes to the moods of an eleven-year-old, but this is an arbitrary definition made by someone who, in all likelihood, has never been anywhere near an elven-year-old since he or she was eleven themselves.