Monday, May 2, 2016

RPM Has Given Me a Voice

Video Blog by Christopher Finnes




Here is a short video message from Christopher Finnes in the UK for parents who are considering RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) for their child. Chris is aged 17 and is home schooled. He began RPM with Soma in 2011 and continues to work on his independant pointing and motor skills everyday. He is not yet able to independently type on a keyboard/Ipad but this is his long-term goal.  

His mum Sue says, "This has been a long journey for us, with many ups and downs, but I have been so inspired by what Chris has achieved using RPM that I felt I could not just keep this to myself. I know that there are thousands of children like my son- whose intelligence is being totally under-estimated, and who are judged by their outward behaviours. Lisa is doing a great job here sharing the writings of many of these children. There are not many RPM teachers worldwide so I decided I wanted specifically to help people to learn RPM, so I set up and moderate a very active international Facebook parent support group 'Unlocking Voices- Using RPM'  and also a not-for-profit company in the UK. My objective is to empower parents to learn how to use RPM with their children and so unlock their unheard voices.'

Sue and Christopher

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Now

By Kaylie



Now

Picking love another useful tool
The love my parents show me is really cool
They never perceived me as autistic only
They treated me nicely

Meeting Soma saved my life
or began my incredible new life

Now I create music
Now I can tell you I'm happy
Now my life has meaning
Now I'm pointing and talking about my feelings

I'm another beautiful person like you
My emotions are really picking love
Our time is precious
I'm pleased love made people believe in me

Now I can make music
Now my baby sister makes me feel loved
Now I'm really more myself
Now I'm educating others





Kaylie is 12 years old and has been using RPM for about 3 years after being inspired by her local friends to give it a try, including Philip.  Since starting RPM, Kaylie has learned to communicate using a Bluetooth keyboard and iPad, has changed schools to our district middle school where she is excelling in her Science and Spanish classes, and has recently started her own blog after lots of encouragement from Philip.  Find Kaylie's blog at www.kayliespeaks.blogspot.com

Friday, April 29, 2016

My Voice




By Umberto



AUTISM IS A HARD LIFE.  MY NAME IS UMBERTO AND I HAVE SEVERE AUTISM.  I AM FIFTEEN YEARS OLD AND HAVE BEEN SILENT FOR MANY YEARS.  I FOUND MY VOICE WITH SOMA RAPID PROMPT METHOD IN DECEMBER OF 2015.  BEFORE RPM, I WAS TRAPPED INSIDE MY HEAD WITH NO WAY TO SHOW MY INTELLIGENCE TO ANYONE.

         AUTISM IS NOT AN INTELLIGENCE PROBLEM, I WAS LEARNING MY ENTIRE LIFE BUT DIDN’T HAVE THE MOTOR PLANNING TO LET ANYONE KNOW.  I TRIED SO MANY OTHER THINGS THAT DIDN’T HELP BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T FOCUS ON MOTOR PLANNING BUT ON REPETITIVE LOW LEVEL ACADEMICS.  I WAS SCARED TO TRY RPM BUT THANKFULLY MY MOTHER INSISTED AND I AM GRATEFUL SHE DID.  I NOW HAVE A VOICE AND A HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE.

         AUTISM IS MY LIFE.  I AM KIND.  I AM PEACEFUL.  I AM LOVING.  I AM A GOOD SON.  I AM INTELLIGENT.  I AM NOT A BEHAVIOR PROBLEM.  I AM AN EXCELLENT AUTISTIC KID WHO LOVES ALL SUBJECTS IN SCHOOL.  I AM A FRIEND TO PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS LIKE TO STRUGGLE.

         I WISH ALL PEOPLE A VOICE AND A HOPE FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE.  SINCERELY - UMBERTO

Umberto started RPM four months ago and is progressing very quickly.  He is thrilled to be studying age appropriate academics and is even more excited to start transitioning to typing on a keyboard with voice output.  Since Umberto’s recent breakthrough with communication, his family is learning a lot about him.  Umberto has a very close relationship with God in which he gained his strength throughout his years of silence.  He is interested in theology, mathematics, science and writing. He has already started writing to encourage others with autism and he hopes to share more of himself as he develops his soon to be blog, Umberto’s Voice.






Thursday, April 28, 2016

Progressing Towards Independence

By Philip

I am progressing towards independence. Learning RPM has changed my life. I am never going back to my old life. I was making no progress with ABA. I landed myself in a place where no one saw my potential. I was babysat all day. I left that place to go to a regular school where I am treated like the smart boy I am. Pleasant people and interesting lessons make my days meaningful. Lasting progress now happens in my life. Life is still hard. I still cannot communicate quickly or independently. But I make progress slowly but surely. Patiently I work towards independence. Now I am meaning to write without a person holding my keyboard. I practice every night. I see me targeting the letters better. I love seeing myself get more independent. I am also becoming independent in getting myself ready in the morning. Practicing every day helps me make progress.


Lisa’s note:  Now that Philip is 13, we are really working on helping Philip become more independent.  This is very challenging because he has poor control over his body.  In technical terms, Philip shows elements of dyspraxia, the difficulty in carrying out motor plans because the neural communication between the brain and muscles is impaired.  To be clear, Philip’s brain works just fine.  He knows what he is supposed to do.  But, as Philip has described many times, his body has a hard time obeying his brain.  There is a kind of disconnect.  But this doesn’t mean hope is lost.  I have watched in wonder as Philip has been able to learn new skills these past few years.  I know his communication has been an integral part of his success.  It has given him confidence, connection with others, and a way to process his thoughts and feelings.  Overcoming anxiety has been a big barrier to trying new things, such as bike riding and ice skating, in the past.  Since being able to communicate, he has been able to find the courage to not only try, but succeed.  Enrolling him in programs specifically designed to teach kids with special needs has been so beneficial.  I believe training the muscle memory has been vital in learning bike riding and skating.  I know this kind of practice will help Philip at home too.  We have structured Philip’s days around routines that help him learn the repetitive skills of daily living while still having novelty in learning and dealing with new problems.  We have added extra time in the morning so Philip can get himself ready with less of my assistance, but still with supervision and verbal prompting.  He now does part of his homework with the keyboard on the table, typing independently.  He and his siblings also do chores in the evening.  Philip’s usual chores, done on a rotating schedule, are picking up the family room, bringing his laundry down, taking out the trash, and unloading the dishwasher and sorting the silverware, plates, and bowls.  Everything moves slower, but it is worth it because progress is happening.  It makes me think of my favorite character from Aesop’s fables:  the Tortoise from the Tortoise and the Hare.  As the moral of the story goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.”       

  Philip getting ready to perform at the SABAH ice skating show