Autism Acceptance Month – Graciela Presumes Competence!

Today’s post features my dear Graciela, an 11 year old autism advocate in Georgia! Graciela uses RPM to communicate. Here are Graciela’s thoughts on a lesson on Presuming Competence! (*Note, my comments are in regular font, Graciela’s are in all caps). 

Graciela

Graciela

I started the lesson by talking about the premise of presuming competence.  I explained that this concept means that all learners are viewed as capable and willing to learn.

A PRESUMPTION OF COMPETENCE IS CRITICAL TO EDUCATING ALL STUDENTS, PARTICULARLY AUTISTIC STUDENTS. EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN.

I explained that Anne Donnellan, an education researcher asserts that we are underserving children with special needs based upon their performance on tests.

NOTHING IRRITATES ME MORE THAN THE ASSUMPTION THAT YOU CAN ACCURATELY MEASURE OUR INTELLIGENCE THROUGH TESTS THAT USE MOTOR SKILLS AS A MEASURE OF HOW WE ARE ABLE TO THINK.

Next, I discussed the work of Douglas Biklen and his assertion people who are not able to speak may be fully capable of comprehending and thinking in literate ways.  Biklen also suggests that teachers should be held accountable to the same tenants as the Hippocratic Oath (note, I did NOT explain what the Hippocratic Oath means).

CANT AGREE MORE WITH BIKLEN TEACHERS SHOULD BE BOUND BY THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH. THEY SHOULD FIRST DO NO HARM!  I THINK THAT TEACHERS MUST ADAPT TO ACCOMMODATE EACH LEARNER IN THEIR CLASSROOM. SOME WILL MEET THIS CHALLENGE AND SOME NEED TO QUIT TEACHING.

I also discussed that the concept of presuming competence is not new.  Anne Sullivan presumed competence when she taught Helen Keller to spell to communicate.  We also discussed the writing of Tracey Thresher, an adult who types to communicate and his assertion that communication allows him to be a fully involved in society.

ANNE SULLIVAN BELIEVED THAT HELEN KELLER WAS CAPABLE OF LEARNING. SHE INTRODUCED SPELLING TO KELLER AND IT OPENED UP HELEN’S WORLD LIKE RPM HAS DONE FOR ME.  SO AGREE WITH THRESHER THAT COMMUNICATION HAS BEEN THE KEY TO MY PARTICIPATION IN SOCIETY.

Finally, I asked Graciela to write her own guide for Presuming Competence.

MY GUIDE TO PRESUMING COMPETENCE IS FIRST A GUIDE FOR BEING A GOOD HUMAN BEING.  I WANT PEOPLE TO START BEING ACCEPTING AND TOLERANT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT.  HAVING A LITTLE COMPASSION FOR OTHERS GOES A LONG WAY.  TREAT EACH PERSON AS COMPETENT AND WANTING TO PARTICIPATE AND MAKE A CONTRIBUTION IN THIS WORLD.  THAT IS MY PRESCRIPTION FOR A BETTER WORLD.

I could not agree with you more, Graciela!  The world would be a better place if we all had a little more compassion and understanding for others! Thank you for your sharing your wisdom and guidance!

~Elizabeth and Graciela

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