Author Helena Humbridge
My younger son is autistic. When he was little, I was trying any and everything to help him. By 7, he was trying to reconnect with us-his speech was improving, he was toilet trained, and he was taking some interest in the world around him.
No one could get him interested in books or reading. He often pushed books away at home and at school. And yet, he liked sitting in the back at story time at school. We thought maybe he liked his teacher’s voice (she had a lovely soft voice). One evening, before bedtime, I was walking by his room. Through the crack in the half open door, I saw his toys were lined up along the wall and he was reading a book to them.
My son, who insisted he couldn’t read and didn’t like reading, was reading to his toys. I stood quietly in the doorway until he noticed me. I asked him if he liked reading to his friends and he closed the book and said “um, no.” Having been busted, he now knew he couldn’t say he didn’t know anything about reading. He helped with story time at school and he invited me to story time with his toys before bedtime. After that, I told his teachers he often would claim he didn’t know subjects, but really did.
Years later, in his special education high school, the science teacher wrote the wrong answer to a question on the white board. My son piped up and called out “Mrs Z, that’s wrong!” She looked at what she wrote and then realized he knew more than he let on. “How did you know that was wrong?” “Um, I don’t know.” She made him her class assistant. She told me she really didn’t think he knew anything about science until that day. It’s that innocent face I guess…