I hear you. I get it. We don't want our kids to grow up thinking there is something wrong with them and being treated differently for it. It's hard just for us to accept that this baby we once dreamed big dreams for as we rocked them to sleep may have such a tough time achieving that goal.
Consider this, though...
As a teacher, a label does not put a stigma on a child in my room. The label tells me that he may need me to visit his desk during the spelling test to make sure his d's and b's aren't backwards and his letters and words aren't all mixed up. It may tell me that I need to sit him in the front of the classroom so that I have his attention, or the back of the classroom so he can move around a bit. I may need to spend extra time on a writing assignment or forgive his constant use of lowercase and uppercase in all the wrong places. The label may tell me that he REQUIRES extra time during testing, oral testing, quiet testing, small group testing. It tells me that I need to watch him on the playground to make sure he's being sociable enough, instead of closely examining each insect he finds. He may have times that anxiety overwhelms him to the point that he can't remember the answers on the test. I need to know that I need to be understanding. I may need to allow him to skip every other number in a homework assignment or let you write it out for him sometimes when homework has become so difficult and overwhelming that you just want to pack all of the books and hold him.
A child without a label, under the protection of mom and dad, tells me that I am being asked to treat him like every other kid who requires none of this. Our Special Education teacher says, "If a child needed glasses to have an even playing field as his peers, would you give him glasses?" Of course we would. This "label" is glasses to those kids.
A label is only a bad thing, in my opinion, when it is viewed as a negative. When the label is actually used to label the autistic child, the Aspie kid, instead of the kid with autism or the kid with Asperger's. A child should not be told they ARE ADHD, but that they have ADHD or anxiety. They have dyslexia, rather than always being called dyslexic. They should have a true understanding that none of this is a measure of their intelligence. Their brains are wired differently (in the words of one of my favorite kids with Asperger's). They should know that there is a way to help all of these things. They should also be prepared to work harder than everyone else.
I feel that a parent who hides a "label" sends the message that it is something they should be ashamed of or that mom and dad may be ashamed of. We know we could never be ashamed of our children, though. I realize that the decision to hide the label comes from a good place of love and protection, but can be perceived as something very different by the child. A friend of mine helped me to understand this as an adult whose label was hidden from her. When she actually found out that she had ADHD, she was relieved. She wasn't stupid as she thought she was for so many years.
If you are under the impression that your child goes to school and thinks he is like all of the others, think again. Kids know. They know they are different, and they hate it. However, giving them the gift of understanding their diagnosis allows them to feel that they are smart enough, they just have to work harder at it.
They HAVE TO work harder at it. That means you do, too. It may never get better, but when you watch him walk across the stage to receive his college diploma, you'll thank God someone told you to do it. Help him and don't accept excuses. Help him to meet (and maybe exceed) all expectations. Never, by all means, express your disapproval of a teacher or homework in general in front of a child who is frustrated. Your opinion means the most to him. If you are negative, he will be also. Will all teachers be fair and understanding? No. That's something you just have to face and deal with. Always fight for the rights that your "label" grants your child under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Find someone at your school who does understand and is in a position to help. Research. Research. Research.
Many prayers for your journey. I hope this helped.
Any questions, emails, or subjects you'd like discussed can be sent to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.