I have to ask, what about their words or behavior gave you this impression?
Disability Science Review
21

You are absolutely right in your observations. Keep in mind all of my students had profound cognitive differences than most of their peers. I would say 10 to 20% of my students did not factor in the push back from the adults around them, not because that push back did not exist, but because they did not have the cognitive space to pay attention to it. Each of us humans can only attend to the information around us we are cognitively able to.

Some of my students did not attend to verbal information well. Temple Grandin wrote a book about picture and pattern thinkers. Temple herself thinks exclusively in pictures. For my students who did not rely on verbal information to form conclusions and make predictions for what to do next, the verbal commands and reprimands of their teachers were irrelevant bits of white noise. They could not be negatively impacted by verbal information they were not attending to or making any logical sense of. These students showed me that every single one of us is making sense of information in the ways we are ABLE to.

These students were instrumental into helping me understand how customized our nervous systems are for each of us. Psychological theories teach educators and parents to compare thoughts, emotions, and behaviors up to idealized normed standards. These idealized norms simply don’t exist, and are irrelevant when every single person has a uniquely customized nervous system that matches how he or she is able to think and move. (It is absurd to use nonexistent standards as a benchmark for who is ‘psychologically’ normal and who is not.)

Some of my students had a poor working memory and took sometimes years to form generalizations about categories of information. School rules, like math facts, are categories of information. If a child did not have a school rule memorized and/or could not generalize how to use the rule in multiple settings, that rule basically did not exist in his brain. So when the child inadvertently broke the rule, he was not in defiance of his teacher, he was just making sense of the situation at hand in the only way he was cognitively able to do so. Some of my students in this case simply became indifferent to teacher push back because the push back made no sense to them. They were the lucky ones. Many with memory and generalization issues would suffer terrible mental anguish when they were given negative consequences for reasons that made zero sense to them.

One of my brightest students had severe visual impairments. He could not see a teacher’s facial expressions or body language well enough to be impacted by an angry or disappointed look or stance. He could not see the bright stickers meant to entice him into staying in behavioral compliance. Therefore he could not be ‘controlled’ or coerced to stay on task with regular behavior management techniques. He is one of the students who made me realize, we need to communicate with students in the ways they are cognitively able to understand, not in ways that make behavioral demands.

As an aside, when I realized how ridiculous behavioral management was, I realized easily why each student behaved as he or she did. Their behaviors were simply reflecting what and how they were processing information at any given moment. Their behaviors were windows into how they are able to think, not windows into their compliance or lack thereof.

My professional goal is to promote a brain compatible theory of education so educators learn how to use information management techniques rather than behavior management techniques. Therefore, I am excited to read more of your work!