The Benefit of the Doubt

Sometimes I read about other people and their challenges. It often gives me hope. This is a quote from Gabrielle Giffords new book about her brain trauma and rehabilitation.

“In the first weeks after Gabby was injured, she couldn’t say anything at all, which left her terribly scared. She felt trapped inside herself. By mid-February, Gabby had begun formulating words, but they were often delivered haltingly or incorrectly. Her speech therapist handed her a photo of a chair and asked her what she was looking at.
“Spoon,” Gabby said. “Spoon.”
When shown a lamp, Gabby said, “cheeseburger.”
She also got stuck on random words. No matter what she meant to say, the same word, “chicken,” often came out in a burst: “Chicken, chicken, chicken.”
For Gabby it was almost unbearably frustrating.”

Oh, does this ever sound familiar. It is interesting how Gabrielle Giffords got the benefit of the doubt. Pretty soon she got better too, so she is extremely fortunate. In autism we kind of live there all our lives. Each neurological challenge is different, but autism does not get the benefit of the doubt. People assume we get the word wrong because we don’t know the word. It isn’t true in my case. Is it possible in others? What do you think? Do autistic people deserve the benefit of the doubt too?

4 responses to “The Benefit of the Doubt

  1. Yes! Thank you for your work on this blog helping educate and inform people about autism.

  2. I know that my son is absolutly smart. I often tell him because I want him to be proud of who he is : a wonderful boy with autism. Love and trust are the best motivation!

  3. Hi! I’ve been reading about you and kids like you almost non-stop since last night. Imagining your frustration makes me tremble, but hearing your voice gives great hope. Question: You, Tito,Carly and others all have something in common – you started communicating because you mastered written language. That is incredibly hard to do, especially if you can’t physically sound out words, but have to do it all inside, in silence. Also, most children don’t learn to read until 5 or 6. Do you think there might be methods to break children’s silence before mastering reading?

  4. Hi Orit and Aharon,
    I believe Soma Mukhopadhyay, Tito’s mom, has addressed this issue of literacy and has techniques to address it. You may want to check out her webpage In Ido’s case, he taught himself to read when he was very young and was reading well by 5 though it was still locked internally then. He thinks in spelling and sees his thoughts like “mental sub-titles.” He describes this in his book and in the book’s appendix there is an interesting conversation between Ido and Dr. Yoram Bonneh of the U of Haifa about these mental sub-titles. Since Ido hears, spelling wasn’t difficult for him. The challenge was mastering the ability to point and type with hand accuracy.
    Hope this helps.
    Tracy (Ido’s mom)

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