Susan's Blog

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Read it and leap

Yes, indeed, children with ASD do grow cognitively over time; you just have to know how to recognize it. The link below says it all. And  I’ve always said, it’s not the people with ASD who have the problem knowing things about life; it’s the tests, the researchers, that are skewed towards neuro-typical ways of measuring knowledge.  Even and especially the most “severe,” i.e., the most autistically-involved individuals have what I think of as a communication clogging, a language-flow problem.  It is not a blown-out brain, it is not about stupidity.  Those words merely reflect the assessors inability to see what is there, but hidden to us.  (And please note that I am not using the tired old metaphors of autistics being mysteries, enigmas, or puzzles.  I am saying that our inability is just that, and we need to figure out a way for our autistic loved one to “speak.”  Yes, it may not happen in this particular lifetime.  I hope it will.  Remember, it ain’t over til it’s over.

Mark my words, that the more varied communication tools become available for those with ASD, the more we will see research like this, that show that it is we who have not understood, not those with ASD…


My Gr 4 severe, non-verbal ASD son, is very smart. I refuse to believe his IQ score of 60+ or 2/3yrs dev. How can I when the rest of the testing tells me that he reads and spells at Grade level?? When he takes phrases from TV etc and twists them to use in every day speech. How can I when his new teacher on the 2nd day of school writes home… “OMG he’s so smart”… Yes, he couldn’t answer the questions in his Language comp with the box full… but give him 2 or 3 choices and he got the answers right every single time. Or the fact he’ll figure out how something works quickly just by watching or touching… the computer/DS games he plays are age appropriate and complex but prefers to either watch his bro first… or simply figure it out for himself.

2 weeks in his new classroom and she accomplished what I could not for 8+yrs… He rode a bike with training wheels yesterday at recess. He went from barely being able to swim in June to a messy front crawl, being able to fetch items from the bottom of the shallow end to floating on his back during the summer – yet for a year clinged to his instructor. We finally mastered “yes” instead of an echolalic response. We finally started colouring on our own, with our own colour choices….

These things seem minor… but what they tell the rest of us is that he’s learning, watching, imitating… and words like “applesauce” with a little bit of “show me” turns into a child taking his seat cushion (sensory) from his chair at school, putting it on the floor, sitting down crossed legged and saying “criss cross applesauce”… in otherwords… “Instead of sitting on a chair for circle time, I’d like to sit on the floor”.

His new teacher… understood completely and told him if he was comfortable, he was welcome to sit on his cushion, instead.

He’s the first severe, non-verbal ASD child in that verbal, slow learners, LD classroom… 99% of the kids with his dx land in behavioural or ASD rooms… Yet, academically he’s over qualified for it… but they are still going to teach him at his level, and work on his verbal apraxia… Perfect.

— added by farmwifetwo on Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Thanks for posting this! I needed this today as we are mired down in lack of sleep, beginning of school, testing, blah blah blah. . . Things can and do get better. Now, if I could just catch a few zzzz’s 🙂

— added by Suzette on Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I do wonder what it will take to get tests and assessments that fit autistics. With three children with autism (one who would be considered HF, one who would be considered LF, and one who is in between), I know the tests don’t always reflect my children’s abilities. It’s like the testing itself is flawed and the testers are too stuck in their own assumptions to even see the flaws of the test.

But what to do about that?

— added by Stephanie on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 9:10 am

I don’t know. I think you are completely on the mark here. We can keep writing about it, and telling our professionals, too. That’s what I do. I tell them that the tests are limited, not Nat. At least, not in the content they are looking for.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I try to do that. Alex is non-verbal and the least in control of his sensory reactions of my boys, and he’s been called mentally retarded as well as autistic (by professionals). But he’s not. He thinks differently and he doesn’t seem interested in the same things, learning or otherwise, as his peers; but when it’s something he wants to learn he’s quite adept.

One of the problems we’ve had in the past is that the teacher Alex had kept re-teaching the same information (letters & numbers), over and over, for 2 1/2 years, because Alex wasn’t cooperative in demonstrating that he knew it. Of course, he was spelling out words, he knew the alphabet, and he could count up to 100 when he wanted, but they had him stuck on sequencing the alphabet and numbers 1 – 20, because they couldn’t prove he could do it.

It took me that long to convince them that they needed to provide Alex with material that he considered challenging/stimulating before he’d respond. In Alex’s mind, he only has to show he can do it on request once, and it’s too bad for you if you weren’t paying attention or thought it was a fluke. Of course, he does it a lot more in play, because he loves letters and numbers, but it wasn’t until they put more challenging material in front of him that they could get him to respond. And, once again, he’s getting bored with it, because it’s still a lot more repetition than he cares for.

But the idea that it’s their teaching methods and testing methods that don’t fit Alex, not lack of ability on Alex’s part, seems too shocking for them to really get. I don’t know how to get past that hurdle.

— added by Stephanie on Friday, October 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm