Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Able Son

Autism Spectrum Disorder is truly a broad term. The word "spectrum" says it all, meaning that there is a wide range of disabilities that qualify one to have this diagnosis. In RDI we learn that the core deficit is one's inability to use flexible and dynamic thinking. A child highly verbal, who does well in school and is very intelligent may still receive a diagnosis of autism, high functioning autism or Asperger's. Why? Because this child cannot tell the difference between whether or not you are smiling or frowning. This child may talk but will appear to not know that you are there. This brings me to the latest with Aydan. He has been struggling in his new school. The class size maybe too large causing him anxiety and frustration. It could be a little too dynamic for his ability. He's been biting, having some behaviors and isn't doing well overall. They want to place him in a county school which is another way of saying "your child is severely autistic". But wait a minute, I don't see it that way. I see a child that is able to reference with ease. I see a child that 6 months ago did not look at me when he spoke and now he does (even if he only says 5 words). I see a child that smiles when I smile, that knows when I'm angry and knows when I'm happy. I see a child that helps with the laundry, the dishes, cooking dinner...you get the point. In other words, is my child as "autistic" as the highly verbal kid who can't play a simple game of peek-a-boo? Sure we need to work on these kids' deficits but we also need to remember to build upon their strengths. Must it always be assumed that the child is incapable when a program fails? If you're not seeing results in your program "oh well, my child's just severely autistic." Hogwash. I know my son has a long way to go, I know he may always be seen as disabled but I also know that he is able in many ways and I am not prepared to close the door on that.

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