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Dangerous Assumptions

I work with kids of all ability levels. To me, they are all brilliant in some way, and I celebrate their every accomplishment.

There are the ones I know will go far, assuming no one breaks them too badly– the ones who show that “genius” streak already, in spite of language delays or motor skill difficulties.

There are the ones whose intelligence and potential I cannot judge at all.

And there are, at times, those I think will always need major support.

And I adore them all. I respect them all. They all deserve to be acknowledged as individuals and treated as real people. They deserve friends, fun, loving families. They deserve to have their preferences noted and their personalities appreciated. They deserve to be talked to, listened to (even if they can’t use words), read bedtime stories. They deserve to be dressed in nice clothing and taken out for treats. They deserve a turn at activities. They deserve the chance to try to do things themselves– over and over and over. They also deserve to have someone do things for them or assist them when needed.

Just Stimming...

There is this thing that happens sometimes.

Parent has an autistic child. Autistic child doesn’t speak, or their speech isn’t an accurate window into what they are thinking. Autistic child is presumed to be very significantly intellectually disabled.

Years later, a method of communication is found that works for the child, and it turns out that they are in fact very smart. Very smart! The parents are overjoyed. They begin talking about presuming competence, the least dangerous assumption, that not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say.

They are so, so excited.

And they start talking about all the incorrect assumptions they had. If we’d known, they say, we wouldn’t have done X. If we had known they could read, think, hear us.

And it’s a big problem, because the way they talk…..they think the problem was that they treated their child like…

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  1. Marti Hamilton
    January 16, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Your words gave me goosebumps! I hope, with all my heart, that the people who will be working with my son are people like you, who truly care about the kids and want them to succeed in every way possible.

    Like

    • Restless Hands
      March 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Thank you! Sorry it took me so long to see and respond to this comment. It is my dream to ultimately train the people who will work with autistic (and otherwise neurodivergent) clients and try to share my convictions with them about the need to treat these children (and adults!) with respect and appreciation. It amazes and saddens me how many people simply do not see the beauty and uniqueness of personality these children have.

      Like

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