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“Learning doesn’t have to be earned. Children don’t need to go through a rite of passage to prove they are worthy of an equal education. We just teach because it is our job to do so.”

I get asked often about how to presume competence in children with “severe autism”, in children with Down syndrome that present with “severe” (that word again) intellectual delay.

Today, I wanted to write about one mindset shift that can help you do this.

So how do you presume competence in a child / teen who is not speaking, not showing any signs of cognitive development and who is *severely* delayed?

There IS 1 mindset shift.

This is to forget about the idea of competence.

Presuming Competence – while quite a buzz word – is an extremely vague idea that means next to nothing in the hands of even the most well-meaning therapists [especially those who haven’t seen it in action].

That’s why I am shifting what I speak about.

I am asking parents and therapists to Aggressively Assume Intelligence.

Aggressive – because we have to be unrelenting in the face of extreme societal and systemic pressure that says our children are not smart.

Assume – because it may not be obvious

Intelligence – yes, intelligence, not some vague idea about competence which may mean anything or nothing.

Also, we are not being aggressive toward people, we are being aggressive in our beliefs 🙂

I was on the popular podcast The Lucky Few this week where I spoke about this and other things Back to School for kids with Down syndrome.

You might enjoy this show if you are dreading the school year 🙂

Onward dear friend!

Vaish