Developmentally Disabled – Special Needs label or hype?

special needs

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Survey Says – Special needs kids and their ‘labels’

When researchers report new growth in the numbers of kids with special needs, it creates a stir. I get that, I do.

Those who don’t have a kid with that label don’t generally understand the months and years behind trying to find a diagnosis, trying to get your child to catch up their peers, or even just trying to complete therapy. Instead, they see the rising numbers and say parents are looking for excuses, professionals don’t want to do their jobs, or the world is just too label crazy.

I say … they’re missing the point.

Labels and special needs kids–missing the point

The fact is,  whether you agree that the number is 1 in 6, or whether you think it is more like 1 in 20, or even 1 in 50, more kids than ever are being diagnosed, by specialists. What reasoning does a parent have for seeking a diagnosis when there is none?

Did I enjoy countless hours of therapy?

Did I get a kick out of endless hours worth of evaluations and doctor’s visits?

Do I appreciate knowing that each of my kids’ futures are going to be harder?


So, when you bring up the statistics and say that even one parent is just being lazy and getting the diagnosis because of poor parenting; when you even once say that professionals are diagnosing more kids because it’s the flavor of the month; or when you try to discount the jump in numbers for any other factor–you are missing the point. You are devaluing me and every other parent out there who fights daily, who has for years, and will for years to come.

Parents of special needs kids, beware

Special needs parents, read news reports like this and be warned – they aren’t talking about you. They are talking about parents they don’t know, specialists they haven’t talked with, and about kids they will never meet.

And if you are not a special needs parent and read a report like this, remember that a diagnosis exists first to serve the affected individual and their family, and that the vast majority of kids talked about aren’t the kind of kids I have. And they sure as heck don’t know all the millions of special needs parents out there, so how can they possibly devalue even one unknown diagnosis?

Consider the reality that my family and the millions like mine live with, daily. You won’t find it in an article, but send me a line and I might be willing to share a quote or two.

I just have to find the time first.

The original story I read which inspired this post, which talks about recent numbers published that say 1 in 6 kids will be diagnosed with a developmental disability.

Some say there is an epidemic of children with autism and ADHD. Others say it is really an epidemic of hyperactive parents, teachers, counselors and medical practitioners too eager to diagnose and label.

via One in Six U.S. Kids Reportedly Developmentally Disabled – ParentDish.

What do you think about these kinds of articles?

Do they present important evidence?
Should special needs parents take them seriously? What about the general public?
Do YOU have a special needs child? How do stories like this make you feel?


Katrina Moody

Katrina Moody

Graphic Designer, Wordpress Addict, Blogger at Kat's Media & More
I'm a special needs parent before just about everything else in life, but also a passionate advocate for my three boys and husband, who all have a bit of awesomeness about them. Awesomeness = Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome, Autism, Epilepsy, Dyslexia, Cerebral Palsy, and more. It all adds up to some awesome kids and an amazing family.
Katrina Moody
Katrina Moody


  1. Kim Quinn says

    I have twins who have special needs. We do not fit into any catagory, most "traditional" diagnosis have been ruled out. So while I do question the stagering numbers of children being labled as having ADD/ADHD, Autism or being on that spectrum, and the other lables; my concern is that lables do not become definitions. My children have learning disablities but that is not all of who they are. Nor is the lable that your child has define them. For example, I know of an older girl, who has asperger syndrom, she also happens to be a wonderful actress and singer, very intellegent and a pretty girl. There is much more to her than a lable. My children are twins, very pretty, kind and loving children. They can also be little stinkers when they want. They are a whole lot more than the lables people may put on them. So I think as parents we need to keep on encouraging people to see the whole child, abilities and gifts, stuggles and triumphs.

    • katscafe says

      Kim – thank you so much for replying.

      I think one of the hardest things we can do as parents is not only look past all of those "labels" to the child, but to be able to show that same child to the rest of the world.
      I always try to include a little note about my guys when I write, something I see as truly "them" – because sometimes when you write about being the parent of a kid ( or kids!) with disabilities, you get caught up in the labels because you are struggling so hard to find the right words to explain the situation to the rest of the world. It's one of those things about being human.

      I do get caught up in those labels sometimes, but I work to remind myself and others that the label doesn't make the kid, even if you need to know those labels to understand how far they have come, how hard they have worked. Thanks for your thoughtful post and I agree – introducing the world to the whole package is what's important.

  2. says

    Hey! This came up on google and I checked out some more of your stuff. I just added you to my Google Reader feed. Keep on keeping on. I'll be quietly following you from the sideline haha.

    • Katrina says

      Glad you found something worth reading here – I hope to see you around more and look forward to your comments!

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