I’m not a great fan of labels. In fact, I am possibly diametrically opposed to them, for the restrictions that they can place on the individuality of people, especially people who may experience social oppression and systematic stereotyping, such as our children and young people who are looked after. Today, my position is in jeopardy as I consider all of the young people who are about to leave the care system and who though in age are ‘ready’ (yet, are many of us really ready at that age?), do not have the emotional capacity to manage the transition. I’m talking about the young people who may be expected to move from the containment of their ‘specialist’ school to an FE college. I’m also talking about the young people who have not been formally assessed (and won’t be) for dyslexia but are showing clear signs that they are. Then there’s the young person approaching the age where they are expected to be able to budget and navigate public transport but this is in no way feasible for them because they are demonstrating signs of Aspergers syndrome.
None of these young people have formal labels and hence, none of them are receiving additional support or considerations that they do not and will not fit or meet the criteria for a smooth transition into independence. In the absence of a label, there is of course the tacit knowledge of the foster carer, who may have the insight into the specific needs of a young person but without the label are not supported by the system to source what is needed to meet these needs.
So no, I’m not a fan of labels but I am considerably more opposed to young people not receiving the support they truly need, to be who they truly are and who they can be, in society. Surely this is the true intention behind ‘preparation for independence’?