The detrimental effects of labeling persons as disabled is well known to special educators, many of whom have advocated doing away with labels altogether. However, as a fundamental of science, classification is extremely important. The problem may not be the labeling process per se but one of societal attitudes. Labels are both a product and provocation of attitudes. A review of the current classification systems pinpoints eight characteristics that are problematic in classifying motor disorders. Gibson’s (1977) theory of affordance offers one way of providing a more accurate and useful labeling system, and at the same time addressing, in part, the negative attitude problem. In an affordance approach, the label applies to the behavior as a product of the person/environment system rather than to the person alone, which is the traditional approach. The new classification system offered here, although not complete, differs from the traditional systems in several ways and is seen as useful to researchers and educators alike.
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