The Intelligent Way Leo Hauls Trash Cans

Hauling trash cans at our place is a bit of a pain. The cans are large and heavy, and they need to roll down a long, steep driveway. Most smaller people haul them they way the girls are doing in this picture -- backwards.

Adults, however, turn around, push their can down to the position of Mali's can, and hold and pull it behind them as they walk forward down the driveway. All of this is fascinating to you, I'm sure. But it's important background information.

Because yesterday Leo helped me haul the cans down the driveway. And instead of wrestling with his can, trying to push it down the driveway, or defaulting to the girls' backward-pulling walk, he stopped for a moment, carefully observed the way I had positioned my own can, and then imitated my pulling technique exactly. I did not give him any instructions or prompts -- he did this all on his own.

You could almost see the intelligence crackling and sparking around his head. He was thinking, and thinking hard, and problem solving, and doing it independently. It was a small moment, but it struck me deeply. It's the kind of demonstration of ability that tends to get overlooked, precisely because it was not communication-based. And it makes me wonder exactly how much of an iceberg Leo is -- what we can see of his ability, as opposed to what we can't see. And how frustrating that must be to him.

It's one of the reasons he's in the middle of a full AAC evaluation -- to ensure that he has the opportunity to demonstrate what he knows, and what he can do, and tell us about it to the best of his abilities. So he can tell us what he wants, how he feels -- so he can communicate with us, and everyone else, on his terms. To the fullest extent of his terms.

I'm not banking on an Ido-like communication breakthrough -- though that would be wonderful (for Leo most of all) -- because Leo is Leo, and should not be held to anyone else's standards. But we owe it to him to find out exactly what those standards are. I hope we don't let him down.

1 comment:

  1. I remember 10 years ago when an OT was at my house observing/working with my 2 yr old daughter with autism. She was completely non-communicative at the time. I remember the OT commenting and praising her on how she had grabbed a chair to put in front of the counter top, so she could climb up and get what she wanted. I look back now and am so thankful that the help I have had, has always concentrated on the progress, and celebrated the successes....many of which they had to point out to me because I just wanted her to talk. Well now she talks, dances, plays the trumpet and performs in plays. She has so much potential and is really going places!


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