In the old days, kids who were different were called oddballs. Now they’re more likely to be defined by a diagnosis. But some doctors say the labels hurt quirky kids more than they help.
These are kids (and more are being identified than ever) with a wide range of quirks and traits who occupy a gray zone of slippery, often overlapping diagnoses, like autistic spectrum disorder, that can leave parents frightened and confused. Kids with high IQs who can’t read facial expressions, who prefer vacuum cleaners to toys, who hate the feel of sand or wind, who have no idea how to make friends, who may suffer daily over things that come easy to others. Kids whose parents sometimes wonder: is my child a socially awkward math genius destined for greatness, or a loner destined for loneliness?
We’re too quick to label kids — but sometimes a diagnosis points toward treatment.