Friday, 6 April 2012


The other evening on Facebook I was involved in a discussion on introverted children.  It was interesting until someone had to say  "I love that people are labeling their kids" .

The image that started it all...

I hate these Facebook comments that stop a discussion dead in it's tracks.  I do not know this guy.  He is a friend of the friend who started to the discussion, so I restrained myself and chose not to comment on his comment.

I did however, have a quite extensive chat with my Mum about it, which made me think about writing this post.

First up I hate labels, in principle, but in reality they are a necessity.  Labels are required in a bureaucratic society. There are so many situations where if you don't have a label for your child then you miss out on vital stuff, like early intervention for a child on the autism spectrum, for instance.  Without a label of autism spectrum disorder, a child has no chance of accessing the kind of resources that may mean there is the possibility of a "normal" life for the child and their family.  The chance to intervene early and increase chances of a mainstream education and coping in our society.

Let me tell you about my friend D.

Her now 8 year old son has obvious issues, in several areas and unfortunately that has been a big part of the problem in getting a label for him.  Since he was three she has been trying to get a label for him so that she could get the right help for him.  He does not conform to the usual norms for autism, aspergers, auditory processing etc.  He exhibits bits of all of these.

The pre school needed a label to get funding for the extra staff and time he needed.  He did not get it.
The school needed a label for similar.  They have him in a support class.

Medicare needed a label so that his therapies would be covered.  Expenses are pretty much all out of my friend's pocket

To even work out what help would benefit him and help him lead a normal life, he needs a label.  Instead he has been to everything.

Nobody can give him a label.  He has been tested and tested and the only thing "the experts" agree on is that he is not normal.  So for five years she has been battling to get him the help he needs.  She runs from appointment to appointment, sometimes up to eight of them a week and pays for it all out of her own pocket, as he has no label.  He has extra school work coaching, sees a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a chiropractor, podiatrist and behavioural optometrist to name a few.

Without a label she has tried everything suggested by any qualified person along their journey, just so he can attend a regular mainstream school.  And he has no label, therefore no funding and no help for her.

I think that it is important that people who make the judgement that labelling your kids is wrong, should walk a mile in my friend D's shoes.  I think it would change your mind.  I don't know how she does it, their schedule is exhausting and that is just me hearing about it on the phone!

As for the original discussion on dealing with and understanding introverted children, I am surprised that anyone would dispute that people fall into either category and that they have very different needs.  I was an MBTI consultant in the 1990's, so for me this is a universal truth of humans.  As a teacher I used that knowledge to adjust my teaching style to suit the individual.  I don't see how knowing how to best meet the needs of another human being can be considered a bad thing.

What is your take on labels?

I used Autism Spectrum Disorder as an example of a "label" in this post because April is Autism month, but I could have used any number of other examples.


  1. Some points:
    1. Hadn't even seen that comment!
    2. Person who made it is the world's biggest stirrer. Feel free to give back at him any time you wish. He can take it. (Unlike his wife who referred to "lazy parent" *gasp*)
    3. There is labelling and there is labelling. "Good" and "bad" for example, are irrelevant labels. No one fits in those boxes. "Male" and "female" - well there are very few of us who can't be thus labelled.
    4. And yes, I am an introvert. And yes, Previously Mentioned Commenter's Family tortured me my whole life because of it.

    Ah well.

    I feel for D.

  2. I didn't know what he was like and I was a bit annoyed to respond at the time...

  3. I feel for your friend, that sounds like tough going and I wish as a country we invested more into the care of our children. I agree labels are sometimes important but I do hate pigeonholing, something completely different and that happens to one of my children quite often.

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying.
      Totally, and I think you nailed it there. That was what annoyed me so much - label or pigeonhole, which was he talking? Some are necessary and some are completely unnecessary and completely inappropriate.


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