Children risk being misdiagnosed in order to receive school funding support
In Australia, children who may require extra support at school only receive additional government funding if they fall into a recognised disability category. Consequently, parents of children with speech/language difficulties, dyslexia, auditory processing disorders, dyspraxia and other non specified developmental disorders, often report finding it very difficult to gain support for their child, as children with lower support needs – who can and should be supported within the classroom – are unlikely to receive individual targeted funding.
Sometimes, as this article on “The Conversation” highlights, this can create pressure for schools and parents to look for the “right” diagnosis for their child, where a more “severe” disability will help the child to qualify for higher levels of support. I have also seen it go the other way, where parents resign themselves to the idea that since there will likely be no extra support for their child, there is no point in involving the school with what is going on.
Neither of these avenues provide great outcomes for the child. We know that there are overwhelming issues surrounding the lack of funding for schools and a lack of quality support for students with learning difficulties in regular classrooms. However, the good news is that health professionals such as speech pathologists and occupational therapists are always happy to collaborate with a child’s school and classroom or learning support teachers to find ways to work together! Whether its through consultations, school visits, in-services or more, there is always something that can be done to make a difference.