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Proof: Ben Can Read!

  • Posted on December 19, 2010 at 3:28 AM

Some things you just know.  I know Ben can read.  But…knowing that really doesn’t do much good, does it?

One of Ben’s therapists—the one who comes most often—also knows Ben can read.  But…knowing that really doesn’t do much good either?

Taking a leap of faith, but needing proof, the lead therapist (or whatever her title is—still can’t keep it straight), set up a test.  On a white board, she wrote out a paragraph that Ben should have been able to read, if he could read.

The paragraph was full of relatively short, common words.  Words like “Ben” and “boy” and other familiar things.

And Ben read it.  I didn’t hear him.  He wouldn’t do it for me.  But he read it with two witnesses who were just gushing over his accomplishment.

Some words he didn’t know.  He didn’t just read “swim,” for example.  He had to sound it out.  And he did!  He sounded it out.  And once he sounded it out, he was comfortable with the word and, I’m guessing, was able to associate it with the activity he knows and loves (i.e., swimming).

Proving Ben can read took time and a bit of forethought.  Watching Ben read books that he very well might have memorized isn’t enough.  Watching Ben labor over books and then tell himself the story in the middle of the night isn’t enough.  Watching Ben read books we’ve never showed him, but he might have memorized in a different venue, isn’t enough.  Writing a whole new paragraph and watching Ben read it aloud proves Ben can read.

But this is also something of a “splinter skill,” at least in his ability to prove he can do it.  (Whether or not his ability to actually read varies is unknown.)  Sometimes he can read aloud.  If he’s calm enough to sit still…  If he’s able to understand the direction that requests he read aloud…  If he has interest in the “game” we’re playing by requesting that he read aloud…  Then, Ben can read and he will prove it by reading aloud to us.

Thinking about this, though, I have to wonder.  I mean, I knew Ben could read.  I know Alex can read.  But that skill isn’t attributed to Alex, because Alex can’t prove it.  He can’t verbalize it.  He can’t read aloud.

So, why is it the default position of schools/therapists/etcetera to assume inability until the ability is proven in a typical manner?  This question is two-fold.  Why the assumption of inability?  And, why can our means of attaining proof not be as creative as our means of teaching or meeting sensory needs?