The Damage of Labeling Students: A Look at ADD and ADHD

ADD and ADHD Students: Are Often Bright and Even Gifted

Violating Newton’s First Law of Motion:

Reaching those Challenged by an Attention Immaturity


Steven Pavlakis, M.D.**, The Director of Pediatric Neurology and Development, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, refers to attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity, as being an attention immaturity issue rather than an attention deficit. I believe this is an important distinction and, while there is much work yet to be done, it is a significant observation and one that warrants additional research.

The Damage Labels Do

One of the greatest challenges affecting our children today is the use of labels in our schools, particularly early on, and specifically as they relate to learning disabilities. Once labeled as disabled, average, gifted, and so on, a child is set on a track; and, that track is set in stone. Short of a violation of Newton’s first law of motion, there is little chance to break free of most labels, in many ways they are the academic version of a high school reputation…and they stick in much the same way! Unfortunately, from that point on, the student will be labeled accordingly. For the remainder of his or her academic career, in the original school district, that of the original diagnosis, or as a member of the student body at any other school system he or she might become a part of over the remaining years, the label sticks…the rep sticks!

Frightening?

It should be!

Just a fresher for those not up on their Newtonian Laws:

Newton’s first law of motion states that the velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. (Sir Isaac Newton, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687)

Or, as many have learned it way back in elementary school:

Once a body is in motion, it will tend to stay in motion unless acted on my some other, outside force!

Once again, as most familiar with the wheels of academia know, particularly in a public setting, those labeled disabled, in any sense, will remain labeled and will receive a different education. Interrupting that motion set by the powers that be is an order of magnitude more difficult than violating Newton’s first law!

NOTE: I am not saying that the issue of attention immaturity must be ignored. I am simply suggesting that we be very careful before we assign labels to children in or out of an academic setting.

This is a crucial issue and one we will explore in greater detail over the year ahead. For now, suffice it to say that before any sort of a diagnosis is set in stone, IEP developed, and child labeled, possibly for life, we must be very sure of exactly what we are dealing with…in all of its manifestations.

Because the issues/challenges have been described, across most academic and medical communities, as learning disabilities may not be, caution must be the watchword. Most significantly, children are being treated with many of the same education strategies and programs that have been traditionally set aside for those diagnosed, and subsequently labeled with, more profound educational issues and challenges.

This cannot stand!

Ultimately, how we diagnose and treat our students will impact and affect the trajectory of the remainder of their life. The possibility of serious consequences should, at the very least, suggest a level of caution not currently displayed and/or applied in many school systems, public and private, today.

Contact us today!*

If you would like to discuss your child’s options with me, I will be accepting a very limited number of children for the current academic year. Because our program requires a significant time commitment on my part, I can only accept 8-10 students per year.

Please contact me for more information.

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
Westside Tutoring
Serving All of Northern Ohio
440-821-7018 (cell)

*The only time we do not pick up the phone is when we are in session. Please leave a detailed message including: student’s name; school district; academic year; birth year; diagnosis, if any; IEP in place; athletics and/or extracurriculars; and, any additional relevant information. I will return your call as soon as I am free.

**Dr. Pavlakis has received a number of awards, has an impressive CV, and his research has focused on cerebrovascular disease in children, metabolic disease in children, and the neuroimaging of children (MR, MRS, and functional imaging).

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