Course Blog for Developmental Psychopathology (PSY330; Spring 2020)

The Power of a Label

Most recently, our class discussed intellectual disability in relation to labels, and the way naming matters in the world of disability services and supports. Dr. Sciutto described labels as being “sticky”, something that can be hard for one to destigmatize and break away from once deemed as such. Something I found particularly interesting was when we looked at the difference between the terms “disorder” and “disability” when creating a label. The term disorder connotates that there is something wrong with the person, and the successful fit would be to get rid of symptoms through avenues like medication. Disability, on the other hand, connotates that the person does not fit with the environment they were brought into, making the successful fit to be finding them the best environment for them to thrive in. The successful fit in the case of intellectual disability is to find the best way to support a person in leading an independent life within the appropriate environment. 

If put into the right environment, the disability or difference no longer intervenes with the person leading a normal life. This makes me think about the value and importance of special education and after school programs for children with diverse needs. From my experiences already in service-learning, and seeing how children can thrive and engage in educational and social activities that will help them in their independence, I truly believe in the positive effects of an enabling environment, and how a label should not determine what a child cannot do, but rather help specify what will be the best way to support them in what they can do.

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