Autism Beyond Standardized Measures


Dear Standardized School Questionnaires,

I could go on and on about how frustrated and sad I feel when I have to fit my child into all these boxes that he does not fit into.

I could elaborate on how this questionnaire is unproductive in describing my son. Instead, I’ll tell you what you’re missing when we check “never” on many of the countless boxes.

He may not be able to write the alphabet, but he knows and recognizes all of his letters. He even recognizes sight words—perhaps more than that.

He may not be able to verbally count from 1-10, but he can count by pointing at the objects.

He may not be able to tell you what happened in a story, but he can answer who the characters are by pointing if you ask him.

He may not use words to express his emotions in general, but he is very clear with his gestures and facial expressions. He will sign “me” when he wants something. He will push something away when he doesn’t want it. He can also convey how he feels with his speech device with help.

He may not be able to play with one or more children for 30 minutes at a time, but he will happily greet peers and play side by side with them.

He may not be able to say “she is my mom” or “he is my brother,” but he will point to us if we are in the room if someone asks him.

He may not be able to identify, detect, and process every single emotion he encounters, but he does recognize when people he loves are upset and will comfort them with a hug or a kiss. He also smiles from ear to ear when we tell him how proud we are of him.

He may not check all the boxes, but please know there is so much more to him that may not fit in the box. Please work with him outside of it, which may be hidden behind or underneath it, as he is so much more than what you see.


A Concerned Parent

PS: I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

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Trista Metz

Trista Metz lives in Massachusetts with her two boys, one with non-speaking autism. You can follow her on her Facebook page: The Legend of Lincoln: Our Autism Journey.

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