Assume Competence

The current debate in autism education is between those who assume competence, have expectations of intelligence, and as a result, frequently discover minds that think behind the autistic mask. The other school of thought is reflected in this statement by ASHA. That is, to assume competence is abusive somehow. I know what presuming incompetence does. It deadens hope and kills expectation. It makes seeing the ability impossible.

No one is claiming everyone is brilliant, just that fewer nonspeakers than the experts believe, are dumb. I prefer to believe that nonspeakers may have intellectual skills not immediately evident for a variety of reasons. See here for some reasons.

Look for intelligence and you discover more. Look for disability and you get stuck in limitations.

Please enjoy this Ted Talk on finding competence by Vaish Sarathy.

5 responses to “Assume Competence

  1. She’s terrific.

    Just so’s you’ll know, Ido, I puked when I read “To assume competence is abusive.”

    Whatever happened to the English language anyway.

  2. Amazing speech

  3. The ASHA is wrong, let’s hope we can move out of the dark ages of autism and related disabilities to really, truly understanding intelligence, splinter skills, strengths and untapped abilities, especially for those with non-verbal intelligence. To not move forward is going backwards in rights, equality, and opportunity. The speech language association should not have all the power and all the influence in this matter. The true professionals in this arena are those living with this disability, and those who live, work and understand their abilities. Lets take back our power and influence, as we are the professionals in the know!

  4. Josh Griffing

    Ain’t it ironic that ASHA’s condescending video about how RPM and FC somehow hinder communication has the comments turned off? It’s as if they don’t want anyone else to try to communicate with them about this topic.

  5. I am sickened by ASHA. Unfortunately, they just reinforce the status quo. The speaker in the video is my friend, and I also have a daughter with the dual diagnosis. She convinced me to do a clinic with an RPM practitioner who specializes in “low functioning” kiddos. I discovered that my daughter can do math she was never exposed to. I brought the video to her teachers, and they were impressed. yet they went back to almost all life skills work and to number correspondance, not the addition I asked them to teach. They assume incompetence and are preparing the kids for jobs like busser, walmart greeter and “factory” type work. I figure it this way. If she hasn’t learned it by now, she’s not going to. So why not assume competence and do something new and advanced. If the schools implemented RPM, we would have to undo all of the crap these therapists learned in school and reconsider their attitudes.

    I have to say for all of those years of SLP, she has not improved at all, other than being able to chew better. It hasn’t helped at all. Methinks they are scared for their livelihood.

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