When I was a kid, school didn’t know I could read because I wouldn’t read aloud. Situational mutism and exposure anxiety locked my lips.
One day, in a quiet corner with a semblance of psychological safety, I quietly, in a whisper, read a book cover to cover to my teacher and said, “Can I go now?”
During my school career, I was both r-word and genius.
In a culture that conflates eye-reading with intelligence, my course and fortunes changed when school noticed that I could not only read, I could read anything. I went from being a full time r-word to a part time one, depending on who was in the room with me and if I felt safe enough speak.
R-word and genius. The difference in impressions is due to psychological safety, it’s presence and absence.
Autistic people are psychological safety barometers, and we’ve turned classrooms into a hell for autism.