Different children with the same diagnosis might have very different patterns of strength and weakness
Poppy Ionides, Educational Psychologist and Consultant
The language and systems of identifying hard to spot children often cross over with the practice of seeking to classify children with labels such as dyslexia, AD(H)D, autistic spectrum disorder, dyscalculia and DCD/dyspraxia.
It is clear that across a population of children one sees a range of differences in learning and behaviour that arise at least in part from nature as well as nurture. However, it’s not at all clear whether labels of specific learning difficulties and developmental disorders do these differences justice:
Despite the inadequacies of diagnostic labels they provide a structure to support the identification of hard to spot children, and many times over I have seen great improvements in situations when children’s differences are given a name: joining dots to create a coherent named picture can make children’s differences feel ‘real’, giving those involved renewed ability to see the world from the child’s point of view, to respond sensitively.
Even when labels serve a useful purpose it is important to remain mindful of their flaws, to look behind and around them to set each child in their environmental context and see their unique dance of strengths, weaknesses, motivations and aspirations.
Mirkka Jokelainen addresses the question how can we ask students to demonstrate thinking skills and the ability to apply knowledge by ticking a box?
John Galloway discusses how we can identify and support girls with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.