Over my years as a special educator I have noted that people tend to associate an individual’s speaking ability with intelligence. This generalization has led to many frustrating moments. I have witnessed students with high verbal abilities extremely frustrated because the task they have been assigned is beyond their current ability. I have also seen individuals with minimal spoken language receive tasks that are far below their actual ability. Some of these individuals had above average nonverbal IQs.
In both of these categories, the students and their teachers become frustrated, work is generally not completed and, at times, disruptive behaviors may start.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. Taking time to understand strengths and weaknesses will give you an understanding of whether to provide more challenge, more structure, and instruction, or a change in presentation when assigning a task. Checking in to see how things are going can also alleviate frustrations and reduce wasted time. Once checking in becomes routine you can even incorporate it as part of the task, shifting the check-in reminder to the person with autism.
To recap, a person’s verbosity is not an indicator of intelligence. Please get to know your student, employee, and/or friend that has autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. You may be surprised what you find.
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating your success strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.