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