Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Labels as Good - Labels as Bad

Eric Wolf writes on Dyslexic on his Blog

On the last blog post a reader of this blog commented - witch is always nice - hint, hint, wink, wink and nudge, nudge. She wrote a nice note suggesting that it was a mistake to embrace the label of dyslexia that we are not served by embracing labels because we are not our labels we are ourselves. I could not agree more... in fact to me the road too freedom for dyslexic children is in the opposite direction from more time spent learning to read, write or do any schooling at all - but towards a lifestyle where they are able to master their confidence, there faith in themselves and grow up with out ever having to be told day after day that they need to learn harder or faster

While I agree with the thrust of my readers comment - I wonder if we make an error in abandoning the label so quickly. I have spent much of my life running from the label and must examine the consequence of all those actions. Judged with out the label I am ineffective, sloppy and a lazy. Judged with the label I am working hard, highly intelligent and driven. In fact only when I embraced the label did I really find some success in any literate or academic endeavors

If I were blind you would not expect me to abandon my label and take driving lessons. If I had no legs you would not want me ot give up my label and crawl up the stairs. Labels for handicapped people are very helpful they allow others to see what limits exist for us and under what circumstances we are likely to succeed or doomed to failure. Of course we are not our labels - but we have to recognize that the label protects handicapped people from being placed in a situation that is precarious to us.

I clearly can write and read. Many dyslexic people cannot. I clearly can spell to a degree that is rare among dyslexic's. In an academic environment when identify as dyslexic and I call upon the help offered by the handicapped accessibility law. I am allowed certain supports. I can be very successful, but only when I embrace my label. To do other wise in that situation is fool hardy and self-destructive.


SoulSpace said...

This note from you should reach a larger audience!I agree hundred percent with you.

Kate B. said...

I agree. My 7 year old daughter is dyslexic and I have been told by many (well-meaning, I'm sure) people that I shouldn't 'saddle' her with 'this' label at her young age. All I know is that now she has this label she is finally getting the help she needs, and most important of all in my opinion, the label is something she embraces - it helps her understand why she is different in terms of how she learns from her classmates, gives her confidence that she is not alone in this, and that the word 'dyslexia' is not interchangeable with the word 'stupid' (her own label for herself at her old school which was ill-equipped to help her and refused to even test her for dyslexia, even though it was pretty obvious to anyone what the issue was).

Dyslexia is a label to embrace. If some people have negative connotations about the word dyslexic then what a shame for them, for they don't realise the huge amount of potential held by people who don't fit the common mould.

One of my daughter's favorite things is for me to read her a list of all the famous dyslexics and to explain what they did to become famous. She is proud to have the same label as Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein, to name but a few...