Eides Say Sweeping Labels Don't Address Kids' Individual Needs
Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide sign a copy of their book for Dr. Tracey Tedder, "The Mislabeled Child: How Understanding Your Childs Unique Learning Style Can Open the Door to Success," after speaking to a packed house on November 13.
Dr. David Wood, director of the Roberts Center for Learning and Literacy, who sponsored the lecture, FSC President Dr. Anne B. Kerr, and Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide
LAKELAND (Nov. 14, 2008) -- Slapping a diagnostic label on kids with reading or attention problems doesnt solve anything.
That was the message of Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, authors of "The Mislabeled Child: How Understanding Your Child's Unique Learning Style Can Open the Door to Success," at the fall lecture of the Roberts Center for Learning and Literacy.
Speaking before a packed house in the Anne MacGregor Jenkins Recital Hall, the Eides discussed a range of issues and problems that go into diagnosing children as having dyslexia, autism, or attention-deficit disorder. The two biggest problems, Dr. Brock Eide said, are overly broad and general definitions that result in many children being labeled incorrectly and a "checklist" mentality that offers only a single perspective on the sources of a childs problem.
Its not that simple, he said. "Its just sophisticated name calling unless you really understand the problem," he added. "There are clearly kids who are diagnosed with autism who fall on the spectrum. But its important to understand where on the spectrum they fall and its more important (to understand their particular problem) than to put a label on them."
Dr. Brock Eide is a physician and researcher who has published widely on topics such as medical ethics and learning disorders. Dr. Fernette Eide also has a medical degree and completed post-graduate work in neurology and basic neuroscience research, and she has published in basic neurobiology and learning disorders. The couple are co-directors of The Eide Neurolearning Clinic in Edmonds, Wash., where they work with children with all sort of learning disorders.
Dr. Fernette Eide stressed that attention problems come in many forms, and so there is no one perfect way to solve them. There are people who are easily distracted by their surroundings; there are people who have trouble focusing on any one thing; and there are people who have trouble multitasking. But she said most children can sustain an interest in something, and the key is finding a way to attach their personal interests to the tasks at hand.
As an example, she cited Enrico Fermi, a physicist and Nobel Prize winner who is credited with first splitting the atom. Fermi had trouble in school because he couldnt listen to his teachers and take notes at the same time. He could, however, focus intently on one thing at a time, and he was persistent at finding answers. And so he made important contributions to physics and became a wonderful professor, "but you dont want Enrico Fermi working at a Starbucks and trying to keep all the orders straight," she added.
Saying that theres only one way to treat a child is like saying theres only one way to save for retirement, Dr. Brock Eide said. "What I hope you take away from this talk tonight is that the next time you hear someone say, 'He behaves that way because he has ADHD, that a little bell goes off in your head and you hear a voice saying, The way to manage your retirement fund is to buy and hold.'"