Last night my daughters were watching their favorite show, Doc McStuffins. If you haven’t seen it, its an adorable show about a little girl who is a doctor for toys. Its filled with funny little diagnoses that go in the Big Book of Boo Boos and fun little songs filled with life lessons on caring for yourself and others.

In this episode a police car with an accent from those old police shows was getting himself in trouble with the law. It turns out that the police car wasn’t just being bad. He had a cracked windshield that Doc discovered during a check-up. A quick repair and he was back in action and on the right side of the law.

This reminded me of assumptions that are made everyday in response to children’s behavior in the classroom. If a child isn’t looking you in the eye they are not listening. If a child isn’t writing neatly they are not trying hard enough. If a child isn’t performing up to their potential then they are lazy. When a child is struggling, it is seen in their behavior. Whether they haven’t slept well the night before, are upset about something, or have a disability that isn’t recognized, you will see it in their behavior first.

Here’s an example of how a child’s invisible disability played out in the classroom for a young boy in Princeton, NJ:

Just like the police car wasn’t being bad because he was simply making bad choices, we need to look deeper when we see problems in a child’s behavior. We need to rule out a cracked windshield before coming to conclusions. Children with dyspraxia, learning disabilities, functional vision problems, sensory processing dysfunction, and neuromotor dysfunction often look like any other student in the classroom. Before labeling the child as a behavior problem, lazy, or a class clown, look deeper and the child may surprise you. Don’t let the child’s hidden potential stayed locked away, for you have the power to change it.

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