“‘Low functioning”‘tells me nothing and gives me no clues EXCEPT to tell me about the adults who work with the child. When I read or am told that this child is “low functioning” it tells me right away that the adults in this child’s life have not done enough problem solving to discover what supports the child needs in order for him or her to be successful.”
“Let’s do a thought experiment. You’ll come along for this journey with me won’t you?
Imagine that your classroom receives a new student. She’s 7 and has been home-schooled until now, no formal education at all. Her parents report that she developed normally until around 20 months. At which time she became very ill and developed multiple disabilities. The audiologist reports that she has no hearing (based on an evoked auditory potential test done under sedation) and the neurologist has provided a report saying she will not recover vision and that she is untestable using standard measures. Additionally, she has significant behavioral challenges and she appears to have a cognitive or intellectual disability.”
Heidi, of Speak for Yourself, writes about the ways that teaching approaches are often dramatically different for children with autism or multiple disabilities than for children who use speech. She points out how these differences are not supporting our children to become autonomous communicators, and things we should think about when planning instruction, selecting therapies, and working with teams.
This is one of the only posts to newly diagnosed families that I’ve ever seen which both acknowledges the journey ahead AND values the autistic child’s life & personality as completely worthy. It’s a really beautiful balance.
“A child — any child, not just an Autistic one — is a work in progress. By this I don’t mean that they are a someday-person. Every child is real and authentic and fully human in this moment, perfect just as they are. But they are also a sort of seed of the adult they will hopefully grow to become.”
This is a great blog for reading about the experience of being autistic by autistic adults. I go here first whenever possible.