I received a note home in Mia’s backpack today telling me that she has mastered the reading program they had put in place for her this year. They have decided to allow Mia to choose books off of the second grade reading list. Mia is in first grade. And this means one thing:
Mia can read.
I want you to let that statement sink in before I continue…
Well, has it sunk in yet? Honestly, it really hasn’t for me. It probably is not right of me to be so shocked at the revelation. On the one hand, I always knew she would be able to – one day. I just didn’t think it would come so soon. I didn’t realize how close she was. I wasn’t giving her the proper credit for her own hard work. And I definitely didn’t help her achieve this.
I knew Mia was an amazing speller. (Which, I might add, she definitely did NOT get from me. It took me years to be a mediocre one at best.) She can spell just about any word you ask her too. Any word within reason, that is. And she would gladly spend hours outside spelling words in the dirt with a stick, if I would only let her. But I don’t. And this is the part where my narrow-mindedness comes into play. I never let her do it for more than twenty minutes at a time. Even though she could tell me what word she had just written I allowed myself to believe that there was nothing more in the words she was writing. It was just more memorized information that would never be put to use.
I always assumed that Mia’s amazing ability to spell was just another fascinating part of her autism. The letters she made into words were just something she had committed to memory with no real purpose. I believed that she had memorized them from one of the numerous sight word games she plays on her iPad or maybe they came from the piles of flash cards we own, or else, they could have come from any one of the many episodes of “Super Why” that she watches obsessively. I always assumed that spelling out words was just another form of “scripting”. Something she does often; repeating words and conversations from her favorite movies over and over again in an endless circle. Repeating these rhymes and lines so intensely that she sometimes needs help escaping them.
That is not to say I never thought Mia would learn to read – I knew she would. Someday. I didn’t think reading was on the table yet. I couldn’t see the connection between her spelling and the growing ability to read. I couldn’t read between the lines. But why not? I know the answer to this question. Although, I hate admitting it.
The answer is easy. The answer is because as much as I try not to let Mia’s diagnosis cloud my vision, I do. I allow that one word, Autism, to decide and shape (against my own better judgment) what she can and can’t do. I think it’s about time I stop trying to fit her into the societal one size fits all mold for Autistic people.
Because Mia can read. And why NOT?