Autism Acceptance Month – Bella Presumes Competence!

It has been my absolute pleasure to visit Australia these last two weeks to hold workshops in Sydney and in Perth.  The Perth workshop just started today and the kids all really brought their best to the boards.  I am seeing 8 kids in the Perth workshop, 3 who are brand new to RPM.  I can’t wait to see where they end up by the close of the week!  In Sydney, I worked with 9 fantastic kids and their families, 5 were newbies.  Each of the Sydney kids made incredible progress over the week, all demonstrated that they are smart and eager to learn! It has been a pure joy to work with every one of these bright, imaginative, loving, and adorable kids! I will be leaving Australia with a full heart and many new friends (and a plan to return!!).

One of my Sydney kids, Bella, is a huge reason for my visit to Australia!  I have been following this 8 year old RPM powerhouse on the web for some time and have been a long time fan and inspired by her work with her dedicated parents!  Bella and her family have been a huge voice in the Australian RPM community. Their advocacy and support is large reason that so many Australian families have sought RPM for their kids.  It was such a treat to work with Bella and her absolutely delightful family!  Here are Bella’s thoughts on Presuming Competence!

Bella and Elizabeth.  Sydney, April 2015.

Bella and Elizabeth. Sydney, April 2015.

What do you think about the presumption of competence?
I THINK EQUALITY FOR ALL LEARNERS IS SO IMPORTANT.

Tell me what you think Anne Donnellan’s position on special education.
ANNE IS SO RIGHT!  TESTS ARE NOT A GOOD WAY TO SHOW HOW SMART I AND OTHERS ARE.  TESTS DO NOT LET ME SHOW THAT I CAN THINK AND THEY LIMIT MY EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES.

What are your thoughts on Douglas Bicklen and his position on speech and cognitive abilities?  DR. BIKLEN HAS A REALLY GOOD POINT.  SPEECH IS NOT A GOOD INDICATION OF INTELLIGENCE!  SOME REALLY STUPID PEOPLE NEVER STOP TALKING.  SOME GENIUSES NEVER SPEAK.

We just discussed Anne Sullivan’s work with Helen Keller.  How did she  presume competence?
I THINK THAT ANNE SULLIVAN WAS RIGHT TO PRESUME COMPETENCE.  SHE SAW HELEN WAS TRAPPED IN SILENCE LIKE ME.  THAT DID NOT STOP HER FROM BELIEVING IN HELEN!  SO MANY OF OURS ARE STILL TRAPPED.  PLEASE HELP THEM TOO.  TRUSTING YOU TO WORK WITH ALL KIDS WHO ARE STILL SILENT.

Bella, help me to teach other people. Think of it as “Bella’s Guide to Presuming Competence”!  How should others do it?
BELLAS GUIDE TO PRESUME COMPETENCE.  GO OUT AND EMBRACE OUR AUTISTIC PEOPLE.  SHOW THEM YOU REALLY CARE.  SHOW THEM YOU REALLY BELIEVE THEY ARE SMART.  THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP TO TAKE.

Bella, would this be OK for me to put on my GKTC blog for Autism Acceptance month?
I WOULD CONSIDER IT AN HONOR.

Wow Bella!  You have left a lasting imprint on my heart!  I will do all I can to accept your challenge to help others who are still trapped in silence. Thank you for all your hard work and leadership in Australia and now in the rest of the world!  I hope that everyone will take your advice and embrace our autistic people and show them we really believe in them!!!

~Elizabeth and Bella

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