My Son is so Behind…but is He? The Fundamental Problem with Assessments

Seems like at least once or twice a day throughout the multiple disability and autism groups I’m in, i hear some version of this…”we have testing/assessments coming up, I get so depressed by them, by learning how far behind lil Johnny is this time!” We get the joy and excitement of doing them a few times a year, and i always get a copy of the results. A few times a year those papers tell me right there in black and white that my son is floundering, that hes between 1-3 1/2 years behind where he “should” be….but is he? Imagine with me for a moment that you go to take a test at school, you’ve learned the information, you’re confident, sit down, look at the test it’s completely in German! What????? You know the information, but because you don’t speak or write German you fail it miserably. That test is going to make you appear as if you didn’t know anything about the subject.

Everyone gets so caught up in test and assessment scores. Parents of autistic kids are often devastated by their results (my aspie excelled at them until writing got involved). I think the underlying problem is they are assumed to be traveling more slowly down the standard developmental path…well duh their brains are wired differently. My contention is that theyre where they are supposed to be ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PATH so measuring against people on the standard path is completely pointless, bc they’re not going that particular direction! The two intersect and merge at different points, but are not the same. It’s our choice whether to keep ourselves and kids miserably pushing down the wrong path or embrace hopping over to the right one and cheering them on wherever it may lead.


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