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Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Making the Least Dangerous Assumptions

Article by Stephanie Ekis, MS, CCC-SLP

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

– Michelangelo

Our attitude, the comments that we make and the way in which we address the communication attempts of children with autism can either have a positive or negative influence.   Negative attitudes can be contagious.  If we dwell on the challenges instead of trying to find solutions, everyone around (including the communicator themselves) will take on these same attitudes. Positive attitudes can be contagious too!

One of my most favorite articles discusses the concept of the least dangerous assumption.  It is paradigm proposed in a research article written by C. Jorgensen in the area of disability and competence.  It suggests that:

  • High expectations for the student should be the basis for education programming and decision making.
  • If a student is not learning, then the quality of instruction should be questioned before the student’s ability to learn.
  • It is assumed that students with significant disabilities are competent and able to learn.

Jorgensen proposes that we:

  • Refer to students are people first, not labels.
  • Set high-expectations.  This should be the norm.
  • Speak directly to the student rather than to the assistant or caregiver.
  • Use age-appropriate voice and vocabulary to talk about age-appropriate topics.
  • Focus on successes, rather than failures.

If you would like to read more on this topic, please read the two attached articles:

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