Monday, June 26, 2017

Take The Highway

Pervasive Parenting
By Kodey Toney
Take The Highway
I usually try to keep up with what’s going on in the world of autism, and one of the best out there to follow on social media is Ellen Notbohm. She is an author of some great books, and a champion for all with autism. This morning I saw a post that she made that made me stop to think a little, and so I wanted to try and hit on my opinion a little.
Her post was as follows: “Can we please be done with "high-functioning" as a way of describing a child with (autism)? Every (autistic) kid I ever knew was functioning at the highest s/he was capable of at that point in development, and every one of them was capable of more ("higher") given appropriate supports, encouragement and opportunities. Meaningless comparatives help no one, not the child nor anyone trying to formulate how best to help the child. As I am quite fond of pointing out, watch how low-functioning I am in that boring, boring meeting after a large lunch.”
Great points in there. While I agree completely I will counter a little.
I always tell parents that I hate labels, but they are necessary when they are necessary. What that means is, we don’t need to point out disabilities unless we have to in order to get services. That is the only time it is required to point it out. Think of it this way; why don’t we say that someone is near-sighted. We know they have a vision impairment because they have glasses. We don’t need to tell someone that a person is in a wheelchair. That is obvious.
So, we shouldn’t have to point out autism, although I will say that it is not visually as obvious as other disabilities. However, stick around long enough, and know what you are looking for, and you will see the apparent signs.
With that, then Notbohm is correct. We don’t need to say high-functioning or low functioning. They are functioning the best they can. It is our job to make sure that they are operating at full capacity, and then increasing that to push them further in life.
If for some reason you have to let someone know; let’s say you are on the phone and they ask where your child is on the spectrum, they can’t see them to tell the signs, and they are trying to evaluate for some strange reason, then you can tell them what level they may be functioning at on the spectrum.
Remember, this is a spectrum, so there are many levels. Every child is different after all. You should probably just let them know what they can do, and what they are NOT YET CAPABLE OF and leave it at that. Yes, I put that in all caps because I want people to understand that the only limitations on a child are the ones we set for them, or they set for themselves. Otherwise they can do anything they want to with the proper tools and encouragement.

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