OK, so we now all know that ASD is Autism Spectrum Disorder which means each child falls under different area of the spectrum.
We also now know that Somali children in Minneapolis have autism on the severe side of the Spectrum. What does this mean and how can providers take and teach all kids on the spectrum regardless of where they fall.
We ask that all autism centers and providers not discriminate against children because they fall under the severe end of autism. I think all kids deserve equal opportunity to learn to their God given full potential and their best outcome.
That outcome might not be verbal, but so what. That does not mean they can not learn to communicate via other means, nor does it mean they don’t understand or have the ability to progress. All children deserve education, therapy and all children do achieve. There are many ways to teach a child to communicate and as a mom who often fought with autism providers on this because some always assumed nonverbal autism meant no recovery, I am determined to make sure all ASD children are treated equally and given fair opportunities to learn and progress. Nonverbal ASD children and individuals can learn if given the chance. Just because a child is verbal does not mean he or she understands better or more than a nonverbal child. There are nonverbal kids who get toilet trained young while there are verbal kids still not toilet trained into their teens. There are some verbal kids who have no safety skills, while some nonverbal kids do. There are some verbal kids who can say word for word a movie they saw a months ago, yet can’t ask for milk. There are some nonverbal ASD kids and individuals who have written books and poems that can make the hair on your arm stand. In other words, being verbal does not guarantee success and being nonverbal does not guarantee failure.
The goal should be to teach each child and individual with ASD based on their needs and their abilities rather looking for a false cure.
I also know there are some providers that believe the best outcome is having verbal communication. It is not. Communication is the ability to make your needs and wants. There are many ways and methods to teach a child to communicate. We know the iPad, Dynovox, PECS & the Written word are just few, there are many ways for a child with nonverbal ASD to communicate their needs and wants. Some even learn so much more and become authors and writers.
There is also RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) developed by Soma which teaches nonverbal children history, science and even math because it looks at each child’s ability rather than their disability. Just because a child is nonverbal does NOT mean they can not learn. They can and do all the time.
I really hope ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and all autism therapy providers treat each child and individual with dignity and respect regardless of where they fall on the spectrum. We are all human beings and deserve equal opportunity & treatment.
Above words are my opinion and do not reflect any committee or agency.
Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate.