Tosh has never taken an IQ test because they are designed to measure the intelligence of neurotypicals. What's the point? He already fails all other standardized tests because no effort is made to accommodate his inability to communicate like an NT.
I read recently that apraxia is more than just an inability to speak. It also prevents someone from correctly answering questions using any form of communication.
Wow, what an eye opener. That means because of Tosh's apraxia, there is no accurate way to measure his intelligence.
I'm in the process of setting up classroom observations to determine if the severe class is the correct placement for him and if not, what behaviors he would need to improve to move to the mild-mod class. I'm bringing along his ABA supervisor to see how they could support this transition. We're lucky that our district allows this. Many don't.
In fact, Tosh's teacher asked yesterday if I’d like to observe him mainstreaming as well. "Yes, of course," I answered. What a great idea and generous offer!
She cautioned me that the mainstreaming program in which he participates is for the mild-mod students and teaches grade appropriate curriculum. And, the mild-mod class also teaches grade appropriate curriculum. So, when Tosh is outside the severe classroom, he might not understand the material, but it’s a good opportunity to be exposed to positive behavioral modeling.
Tosh’s teacher is one of his strongest advocates, so I know her heart is in the right place. And, I'm questioning his placement, so I've put her and the school in a defensive position.
However, her concern that he wouldn't understand grade-appropriate material gave me pause. I think it’s common in schools to assume kids don’t understand something if they can’t prove that they do. That’s not surprising, because tests have always been used to measure intelligence and understanding of a topic. Like I said before, as far as I know, there is no other way to measure intelligence for someone with apraxia. Plus, schools are under so much pressure to produce good test scores, they've evolved to teach for the test. But this isn't a post about the shortcomings of public education.
This post is about the tendency to make negative assumptions when it comes to kids with autism. How many times do we read about a young adult who can finally communicate and they reveal that they’ve understood everything in school all along? In fact, they had above average intelligence and rather than not understand the material, they were actually bored.
Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if people treated you like an idiot all day long, every day, and you couldn’t prove them otherwise? Who wouldn’t have behavioral issues in that situation? Heck, I've had meltdowns when men in a business setting mansplain something to me.
Ever since I began reading books written by severely autistic teenagers and young adults that revealed their intelligence, I’ve spoken to Tosh in an age appropriate way. I explain how things work, what “big” words mean, the history of places, geography and philosophy. Sure, I accommodate his receptive language issues, but the subject matter is age appropriate. Probably even a little advanced.
The point is this: don’t ever assume your child doesn’t understand just because they can’t prove it. Even if they have an intellectual disability (and maybe due to inadequate testing, their ID diagnosis is inaccurate), they are capable of more than their bodies allow them to express. There is so much more of them under the surface.
Heather Anderson is a natural health educator, writer, blissfully happy autism mom, fintech marketer and lover of life in Southern California.
Please join me on this autism journey. Let’s create a positive, supportive community in which we can learn, grow and prosper. Where the focus isn’t just on your autistic child, but on your own personal growth as well.