"...who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed." Ecclesiastes 8:1
First, let's perspective take and try to understand what it might be like if you hadn't been able to communicate or coordinate your body as you desired for long periods of time or your whole life:
Few Ideas to Help
Getting an answer incorrect, frequently doesn't mean an individual doesn't know--yet commonly that is the first assumption. The following give ideas for other reasons why an individual may miss an answer they know. This is important to try to distinguish in order to build confidence and help the individual learn to choose. Some are quick fixes and some take more time.
Visual-sensory distraction-Student may be more engaged in iPad, something on the carpet, your watch, etc OR the individual may be distracted by the more familiar object/picture/word choice. Too slow-If the instruction is too slow, some lose focus. (So, then, pick up the pace of delivery of the question and/or teaching) For some of us, if we don't get eye contact or the individual doesn't seem to understand, we naturally slow down, speak in a higher pitch, treat them like they have hearing loss, repeat ourselves over and over. Here is an example of too slow and then just right in the pace of teaching (enjoy the darling video 'bomber'):
Too easy- The question may be too simple so the individual doesn't want to answer it. (increase the difficulty of the question) Too hard- May be too difficult to coordinate the correct movements. (build confidence in modeling, encouraging, using one choice, or having both options correct) Auditory-sensory distraction-might be tuning into other sounds, voice, etc...(if the individual is vocalizing it may actually be helping them focus or it may be the auditory distraction) as a result they miss the question or can't focus to choose even if they heard it. (You might teach and ask in a sing song voice to give a different stimulus, cue like "come on, choose with your hand" to help them focus again.) Forgot how to move hand-This goes back to apraxia and the imbalanced equilibrium (see here. Physically show them again how to move) Doesn't want to- A student may feel too different answering with choices, scared of missing so doesn't want to try, or plain doesn't want to. (Sometimes having the others in the class answer with choices too, can help them feel less odd and be more accepting.) Impulsive- An individual may touch a choice without thinking (literally). (Help them slow down and think first) Echoing- An individual may touch both choices, mimicking your movement. This is a form of impulsive action. (Help them slow down and thinking about it.) Teasing- Sometimes they are teasing. (check the difficulty, laugh, don't laugh, call them on it, move on)
Yes, but what if the individual really doesn't understand?
This question comes up frequently when working with this population. Since there are no definitive ways to truly know if they do not comprehend, (especially to measure if they are connecting spiritually) experts in the field frequently agree that best practice is to assume that they do understand you and work from that point.
Mukhopadhyay, S. (2008). Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method. Denver: Outskirts Press, Inc Mukhopadhyay, S. (2015). Harnessing Stims and Behaviors in Autism Using Rapid Prompting Method. Denver: Outskirts Press, Inc.