“LD” Label: Pros & Cons


I hesitate to have my child labeled as "learning disabled because Im concerned that shell be stigmatized as she goes through school. What are the pros and cons of having her identified?

S. Medved, San Rafael, CA

Ask the Experts

Lisa Rappaport, Ph.D

Lisa Rappaport is a neuropsychologist, specializing in the treatment of children with LD, ADHD, and developmental disorders. She is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Having a child diagnosed can bring tremendous relief to both parents and child. All of you finally have an answer as to why she’s been struggling. In addition, the diagnostic process should provide you with a better understanding of her strengths and weaknesses as well as the type of remediation and accommodations she needs to succeed. What is often most stressful is the initial decision to press the school for testing; or if you have an evaluation done outside the school system, whether to share the results with the school.

Many times, parents do not want their child “labeled” because of what teachers might think and, down the line, what colleges might do. The fact is, if your child has been diagnosed, it is better to get the appropriate interventions in school rather than to try to compensate with extra help at home. Educators have come a long way in their understanding of learning disabilities. A good educator knows that smart children can have learning differences yet still be high achievers.

Its important that your child understands her diagnosis so that she can advocate for herself and explain why she needs certain accommodations.

College Concerns

Concerns about college are unfounded. All the elite colleges accept applicants who have taken SATs with extended time and most of them offer extra support for students who need it. Some even waive certain requirements if needed. It is crucial to understand that to get these accommodations in college your child must be able to show a history of the learning difference.

Moreover, to receive accommodations on college entrance exams, she must also demonstrate the use of accommodations in the classroom. Those who choose not to share evaluation results with the school, and therefore forego services, are out of luck when years later their child wants to take the SAT with extended time. The College Board will not grant extended time or any accommodations unless there is a well-documented history of learning issues with accommodations offered by the school.

By having your child “labeled” you are setting her up for a lifetime of appropriate interventions and fair accommodations that she will miss out on if the diagnosis is not shared and addressed in the school setting.

Related Smart Kids Topics

Ask the Experts