Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Won't and Can't

#3 Please remember to distinguish between won't (I choose not to) and can't (I am not able to).

"Is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?  Ask ten people or look at ten websites and you'll get twelve opinions.  Zebras give the impression of being white with black stripes because the stripes end before joining under the belly and around the legs.  But the hide of the zebra is actually black.  It's a lesson from mother nature that things are not always as they appear on the surface.

And so it is with many of the complexities of autism.  How do we distinguish between what our child won't do (chooses not to) and what he can't do (is not able to)?  Many "won't" allegations about our kids are behavior complaints: He just won't comply; she won't listen to instructions; he won't stop rapping his knuckles; walking away in mid-sentence or other odd, inexplicable or narrowly focused actions.  "Won't" and "can't" are not interchangeable.  "Won't," the contracted form of "will not," implies that his noncompliance is deliberate.  "Can't," the contracted form of "can not," acknowledges that noncompliance is not a matter of choice, but attributable to lack of ability, knowledge or opportunity."

From page 21 of TTECWAWYK

It is very hard to understand the difference in won't and can't if you do not understand what autism is and how it affects the brain and body of the child/person who has it.  They can sometimes lack function in areas that we take for granted.  This chapter is wonderful as it is all about figuring out the difference for your child and accepting that you will have to do things differently for them, but also celebrating them and who they are!  It is very important for the people surrounding the child to have the right attitude.  These children are still very capable of living fulfilling lives if given the chance to succeed!

1 comment:

Patty said...

Hello. I see you haven't posted in a while but I'd like to let you know that I also have a high functioning child. He is almost 14 now and is VERY funny too :)
You follow my blog and this is how I found you.
How is your son doing?