Presuming Competence and Using the Least Dangerous Assumption

May 26, 2013 by - 2 Comments

Presuming Competence & Using The Least Dangerous Assumption
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One of our core language posts from last month referred to the criterion of the least dangerous assumption (Donellan, 1984). This week we’re pleased to be able to expand on that topic and share a video by Dr. Cheryl Jorgensen, a former project director at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. As we near the end of a school year in the US and begin IEPs that will direct the activities for the next academic year, we’re all reminded how critical it is to set high but attainable goals. Sometimes, that means making the least dangerous assumption.

You can view the video here.

Presuming Competence &  Using The Least  Dangerous Assumption

Donnellan, A. (1984). The criterion of the least dangerous assumption. Behavior Disorders, 9, 2, 141-150.


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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Karen Florka says:

    I listened to every word. Now I would like to have 1/4 of my caseload with students with Complex Communication Needs. How to convince school administrators? How? How? No changes in sight, here.

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      I think there are a great many of us fighting that same battle, Karen. Our challenge is to keep being that squeaky wheel, to find the stamina to continue to pushing for the vision of ‘what can be,’ sharing that with administrators, and continue to do the right thing in our teeny tiny corner of the universe. Some people may be able to just throw their hands up in resignation, but I think AAC people will keep pushing. Naive? Perhaps, but without hope there is no way to move forward. Sometimes it has helped to get reluctant administrators seeing what their more successful colleagues are doing. There’s a great interview with a principal from one of the schools that Jane Farrall has worked with that I’ve shared. (Jane showed it at a presentation, but I think the link is on her blog, too.) This principal just decided to make language & literacy a priority for kids with CCN, warned her staff about the changes, gave them an option to leave, and had strong accountability for those who remained. Wish we could clone her!! In the meantime, we soldier on and keep ‘squeaking.’ Did I mention that I never won a popularity contest??

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