an admonition to parents
I would just like to take a moment to encourage parents: if your child's teacher(s) or pediatrician(s) has consistently suggested that you have your child tested for a learning or developmental disorder--do it, please. I understand that you may fear your child will now be "labeled" for the rest of their life. I understand that you fear what a positive diagnosis might involve. I understand that you want to avoid your child having an excuse to not give their all or do their best academically. But I understand some other things as well because I am a teacher.
Your child's file will have a label not your child. Unless your child chooses to tell his classmates that he has ADD or Asperger's or dyslexia or receives accommodations, they will likely never know. Certainly, if your child's symptoms are evident, his classmates will know. Much of the time this is a helpful not hurtful thing, however. I have seen my own students be far less than kind to their classmates. I have never seen them taunt an autistic classmate. Ever. And the younger they are when their classmate is diagnosed, the more they work together with them, the more leeway they give that classmate. If you are still concerned, talk to the administrators and teachers; see what a diagnosis would mean. Many parents have an understandable fear of their child being in a "special ed" program. In many schools, a learning or behavioral disorder diagnosis means nothing more than certain in-class accommodations, some behavioral interventions, and special resources tutoring during inconspicuous times. Having an educational exceptionality doesn't mean segregation.
You will be better equipped to handle your child's struggles and symptoms if you know what you are dealing with and how best to deal with it. With a diagnosis, you have a guide. Without a diagnosis, you will be subject to the very same difficulties only with the guide, without the support of therapists, without the extra aid teachers can give. Having your child tested and diagnosed is far better than flying blindly through frustration after frustration because your child continues to struggle in school or behaviorally, and your best efforts aren't working the way you'd hoped.
You are the one who sets the expectations for your child as ever. I have had numerous students who have learning struggles and who receive academic accommodations; I am aware of one whose parents allowed her to use that as an excuse for work that was below her abilities. You will teach your child how to view their struggle: as an excuse for not meeting their potential, or as a challenge to beat every time they do better than they expected.
But the biggest issue, the one that inspires this post today: if you avoid testing and diagnosis, you are robbing--yes, I said robbing--your child of the aid and treatment he needs to get the step up to grade level acquisition and success. Delaying testing merely means that your child will be older and less able to respond to therapy and coaching. For instance, for many learning and behavioral disorders, 5th grade is hitting the upper age limit on therapy. This means that if you wait until your child is finally hitting a wall in upper elementary, you've already missed the time period when therapy and coaching is most effective, and you're quickly approaching an age when it will be nearly ineffective. And trust me when I say, this is no help to your child. No help at all. Delaying diagnosis means your child will struggle and be below grade level in every grade. By middle school, this will start to be very frustrating for him. And by high school, unless he is able to self-construct coping mechanisms, it will be defeating. The earlier the diagnosis, the more able intervention is to put your child on a path of success. For some children, it's enough to eliminate any hindrance to grade level or above grade level accomplishment. For all of them, it equips them with the tools they need early on so that when they reach upper levels and difficult subjects, they already know how to approach them. They already are prepared.
Watching a student continue to struggle, continue to slip behind, merely because his parents failed to heed admonitions to have him evaluated is not fun. It is frustrating. It is difficult. You do everything you can, but without well-developed tools and skill patterns, it is very difficult to help a student in that position by 5th grade. As a teacher, I fear for this type of student when they reach middle school and high school. Not only will they be coping with more and more difficult work, they'll still be struggling to acquire and integrate the skills they need to accommodate for whatever struggle they're facing. Please, parents, do not hinder your child because you fear labels or opinions or complications or excuses. Do not let your fears and anxieties get in the way of what will best equip your child for the future. Don't put yourself or your child in a position to regret that fear. The outcome isn't what you hope. Heed admonitions--if it's clear that evaluation is recommended, have your child evaluated early. You will only be helping them to discover the best ways to prepare for success.