If you are read my blog for the first time here’s something you need to know for this post. Me an not a teacher or parent or professional. Am adult with multiple challenges including nonverbal autism, intellectual disabilities, and ms. So me am talk from mine experience.
This a new thing me hear people talk of lately called presuming competence. The way me understand it and thinks is the best way to understand it is to believe a person can learn. (Not to mean to ignore any challenges and say the person is not trying because you ‘know’ they is more smart.) Why do me thinks this is important? Because so many people look at a person with any easy to see physical or mental differences and think they not know anything and or not can learn anything so they not even try teach. A developmental disability means some things take your body and or brain more time to learn, it not means you never learn anything or so many people would never learn to crawl or even communicate more than just crying like a new baby. And a disability someone gets later like ms or after a stroke do not change who the person is inside. It may mean the brain and or body not can do the same things or may needs more time but the person is there.
Some people who body acts different like has cerebral palsy or ALS or even “severe autism” are really really smart but you not can see that. Think of say Steven Hawking as proof. Or Christopher hills (you can YouTube him). Or rockysclimbingjourney he has a blog to but also there is a video of him. Once the person is able to communicate you can surprise how smart them is.
And sometimes there is people like me that may have an intellectual disability and or learning challenges (like dyslexic type things). But even then if you take the time to find how best them can learn they can do things. Me learning to type was not a easy thing and even tho am 26 mine read and type is low but me learned and still am learning. People with Down syndrome learn things to and not likes when you talk of them like them is babies.
For a not school place presuming competence is like believing the person can understand things even if needs a little help or not can show it in normal way. A really good example is this. . A time me went to breakfast with someone and they sister and her son who has ‘severe’ nonverbal autism like me but was like 8. They told us we was going to the park. Before me even understand what was said the boy had put on his backpack. His mom then was acting like he had a behavior and her try to take the backpack. She did not even think for a minute that he was understanding her. The problem was they did not say when we was going to the park so to him (and me to) it was expect to be going when her say it. Another example is people that talk of a person but not to them even if them is rite there and that’s just not nice. Most of us are not Deaf (but even then is not nice) even if we take a few minutes to understand. My friend Grr does something me really likes, him will talk to me even when him know me not can respond back. And at doctors him tells them to ask me stuff even if he needs to speak for me, he gives me a chance to be involved and always tells them to wait if he can see me am trying to understand or communicate something no matter how long it takes. And Cheetos helps me understand things that may be important even if hard to understand. For example some politics like what is going on with Medicare and Medicaid. He explains stuff in way that makes sense. A lot of people not thinks we can or needs to know of things like that. But we do so we can advocate for ourselves like the cripthevote thing. A lot of people who see me in my power wheelchair especially when they see me not can talk act and talk like me am not a real person with thinks and feels. Me has see people who respect and communicate with toddlers more than me. And not to say they should not respect and communicate with them, but to think of this . . If you can believe a person who is like 2 has something to say then why you think a person that is 26 (or any other age) not has something to say? We has see and experience lots of things. And similar people who see me type not so good just sort of dismiss me because it’s obvious that me has challenges. Mine thinks is just as important. My brain and body has challenges but mine soul is fine. Especially when say we’re talking of something related to autism which I live with. And related to that even tho me am different am able to be a good friend. Maybe a different friend than you has but like me tell Cheetos I may not be the best at understanding everything but am good at listening and being understanding and support.
Ok the part to remember is to always believe a person can learn and understand things no matter how much help or time they need. Be creative. Also never ever give up finding a way for a person to communicate (gestures, pictures, words, etc )