Autism Acceptance Month – Sarah Presumes Competence!

Today’s blog comes to you courtesy of my friend, Sarah. Sarah is an incredibly bright and funny teen who keeps me on my toes every time we work together!  I never know what Sarah is going to bring to our lessons, but I can rely on the fact that it will include her keen insights and sharp wit!  This lesson on presuming competence is no exception!

What are we talking about today?
PRESUMING COMPETENCE

What does presuming competence mean?
ON EQUAL FOOTING … UNDERSTANDING ALL ARE EQUAL

What does the word competent mean?
BASICALLY IT MEANS SOMEONE IS ABLE

Tell me about Anne Donnellan and what she suggests.
ANNE DONNELLAN IS A SPECIAL ED RESEARCHER.  SPECIAL ED IS FAILING STUDENTS .  
EDUCATION ASSUMES THAT INTELLIGENCE CAN BE MEASURED.

Sarah, what is your experience with this?
I DON’T LIKE TAKING TESTS. HAVE TEST ANXIETY.  IT MAKES ME ANXIOUS SO DON’T DO WELL.  SO I CAN’T SHOW HOW I LEARN AND THINK.

Tell me about Douglas Biklen and his ideas.
DOUGLAS BIKLEN . HE SAYS TO PRESUME COMPETENCE.  I THINK HE IS RIGHT.  HE HAS MY WANTS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR SCHOOL.  HOW I WANT TEACHERS TO TREAT ME WITH RESPECT LIKE I AM SMART. 

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Biklen suggests that there should be a Hippocratic Oath for teachers. Do you know what the Hippocratic Oath is?

HIPPOCRATIC OATH IS FOR DOCTORS. IT SAYS DOCTORS SHOULD NOT HARM PATIENTS.

So how would the Hippocratic Oath apply to teachers?
MAYBE THEY SHOULD TAKE AN OATH NOT TO HARM STUDENTS.  SO THEY SHOULD THINK THE STUDENTS ARE SMART AND ACTUALLY TEACH THEM. 

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How did Anne Sullivan presume competence with Helen Keller?
HELEN WAS ASSUMED TO BE INCOMPETENT BUT ANNE USED CREATIVE WAYS TO TEACHER HER SIGN LANGUAGE.

What about Tracy Thresher?
THRESHER USES TYPING TO COMMUNICATE.  THIS ALLOWS HIM TO COMMUNICATE TO BE PART OF THE WORLD.

Creative writing:
Sarah, how have you or do you need to be creatively and innovatively taught for you to learn best?
I HAVE NOT BEEN CREATIVELY TAUGHT BEFORE RPM AND FC.  MY EDUCATION HAS LACKED COMPETENCE PRESUMPTION.  I LOVE MY SCHOOL BUT THEY NEED TO TEACH ME BETTER.  I NEED CHALLENGING LESSONS LIKE YOU GIVE ME.  YOU THINK THAT I AM SMART.

Thank you for your always savvy insight!  You deserve to be challenged and engaged every day.  I hope that your message and your challenge to raise the bar will be met by educators, parents, and specialists everywhere!

~Elizabeth and Sarah

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