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Presuming Competence: Raising the Bar for Autistic Individuals (Part One)

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Information about the processing differences in autistic children is streaming in from researchers and scientists. Two examples are Elyssa Marco, looking at the sensory processing differences found in children with atypical neurodevelopment, and Stephen Porges, studying stress responses in autism and other conditions.  Researchers are now weighing in on what autistic individuals have been asking us to do for years: understand more about the experience of autism, and look beyond outward behaviors.  Behaviors do not tell the whole story, as the sensory/motor processing differences in most autistic individuals are not fully understood or appreciated. Many children are still “punished” for behaviors that are actually accommodations to sensory challenges.  Insufficient training/ knowledge about the underlying meaning of behaviors can result in children being inaccurately diagnosed with cognitive impairment, non-compliance or intentional defiance.

In the (typed) words of Matteo:

I ONCE HAD A TEACHER FORCE ME TO BE IN A CORNER ALL DAY. IT HURT MY FEELINGS SO I COULDN’T WORK.

How do you wish the teacher had handled you so you could work?

I WISH SHE HAD LOVED ME. I COULD HAVE WORKED.

What helps you calm down in new situations? What can a person/teacher do?

I THINK IF I FEEL LOVED I WILL NOT FEEL ANXIOUS.

http://matteosadvice.weebly.com

Feeling accepted and loved leads to feelings of safety and calm.  Safety is a prerequisite to learning. Autistic individuals with limited spoken language deserve thoughtful reflection, understanding and the presumption of competence.

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