I’ve been thinking lately about the assumptions that get made when one’s condition is “invisible”. My husband and I were once as guilty as anyone of making dangerous assumptions. It was clear early on that our son, Coleman was quite bright. He was speaking in sentences at 14 months old, and had taught himself to read by age 3.
So before we knew Coleman was on the Spectrum, we met his shortcomings like fine motor deficits, and poor executive functioning with ZERO patience and, at times disdain. We said things like, “Coleman, most kids your age can dress themselves by now, this is ridiculous.” Oh the multitude of things we did wrong, and handled badly. Yep. Lots of life long parental guilt from stuff like that.
I think what leads people to believe a child “won’t” is that the child’s lack of ability in a particular area is inconsistent with what they know to be true about the child. It’s weird. I think most of us do it. Instead of thinking, “This is inconsistent, where’s the problem and how can we fix it?” We think, “This stinks! I hate it when he’s _____(fill in the blank: willful, resistant, lazy) like this!”
What’s really sad is when it happens even AFTER the child has been diagnosed and has an IEP in place. This is especially true for kids at the higher end of the Spectrum, like NLD and AS because:
- a) they look perfectly capable
- b) most of them are of average intelligence (or above) with ridiculously large vocabularies and
- c) most lack the social savvy to NOT debate with adults as if they are peers
So teachers, and administrators assume, often after some verbal exchange they’ve perceived as disrespectful, that the NLD/AS child in question is really just a “master manipulator” or worse. …continue reading