Thursday, May 11, 2017

Early Days of RPM

Sharolyn wrote:  I want to hear about the early days of RPM and what made it click for you.

To Sharolyn,

Thank you for your question. My early days of RPM were very difficult. RPM is a great learning method but it was really hard to start. I started when I was 9. For so many years I was assumed to have an intellect of a toddler. I was not challenged to engage my mind. Instead I had my senses to entertain me all day. At school I learned nothing I did not already know. So I taught myself to read the signs on the wall. I stimmed my life at home by tapping my hand repeatedly on everything. It helped me feel alive and not just a passive object taking up space. I could escape in my mind to other places where I would have a voice. 

I remember my first time doing RPM with Soma as being the most significant moment in my life. Soma was the first person to believe in me. Her ability to see my intelligence despite my outer appearance allowed me to follow her teaching and respond as my mind wanted. I felt so much joy from being liberated from peoples’ assumptions I was not smart. 

When I came home I was frustrated I could not respond to Mom like I did with Soma. Mom did not know how to prompt me to help me keep my mind and body engaged. I could think of what she was saying but could not get my body to move as my mind directed. I became frustrated and tried to escape the lessons. My mom got upset many times and yelled at me. That made me feel so stressed. But mom persisted. Dad made me my own little workspace with a small table. It was easier for me to concentrate and not escape. Eventually I got better at sitting through lessons.

RPM taught me how to leave my own sensory world to actively participate with others for a while. I first had to learn how to listen actively to respond to questions of me. Expectations that I would meet had to be meaningful. I was tired of being asked the same questions over and over again. Questions like how many, what color, and what is it. These were the questions I got all day long at school. I listened better when I heard something new and interesting. Nothing could be better than learning about God. Mom headed toward the right direction when she started teaching me about God. 

After I got better listening I had to learn to bring my body under better control to point to what I wanted to answer. RPM helped me by getting me to think more and plan my movements more carefully. At first it was hard. I had to engage my mind and body together to learn and show I was learning by picking the right choices and trying to spell. Getting a good lesson helped me listen better to Mom. Then I would learn to focus on getting my hand to choose the right choice. At first my hand would move without much control. It would sometimes prefer to choose one side. I am easily drawn to the word I heard last. My hand would pick the last choice. Things started to click when my mom started to teach more interesting lessons instead of quizzing me on basic concepts. I made progress by a lot of active engagement of my mind. This allowed me to leave my sensory world. Learning to think through autistic impulses is hard work. Autistic impulses envelope me in a purely sensory realm where I am alone in my world. I need high amounts of prompting to keep me engaged with you. I want to be a part of what is going on but I am passive because I am not able to get out of my sensory world without your help directing me to leave so that I can interact with others. I am learning to better join the world today. I am practicing by going to school with typical classmates and going out in the world more. I stay more peaceful than I used to. I think RPM has a lot to do with it. RPM is a life changer. It is worth the struggles in the beginning. It gets easier. 


 Soma and me at first RPM Camp Oct. 2012

My old workspace

Copyright 2017 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you so much for writing this Phillip! Although I wasn't the one who asked this question, your response helped me understand so much as I begin to work with my son. Very well done! Great photos as well! May God bless you today!

  2. Your blog encourages me. We have done Rpm for a year and my son still has a hard time and we go back to ask choose. Discourages me that he is not yet feeling able to answer me directly. I will be patient.

  3. Hi Philip - Thank you so much for your post. I am going to share it with Max and I think he will like it a lot. We look forward to seeing you soon.

  4. Hey Philip!
    I'm an ABA therapist and I'm so sorry to hear from a previous blog, that you didn't like ABA.
    I truly do my best to make ABA fun, using water toys, playdough, and other things I'm sure you've encountered before :)

    I am just wondering if you might be able to help me understand my clients better, and see if we could work together to develop some new innovative strategies to make therapy a little bit more interesting?

    My first question is,

    One of my clients doesnt seem to want to talk, every time he says something he will put his hand in front of his mouth and doesnt seem to like sticking out his tongue! What are some good ways to help encourage speech?


    another Kiddo doesn't want to sleep, he's older, we have adjusted everything in the room (temperature, lighting, even how it smells), do you have any suggestions for way to self-soothe to sleep?

    One of my kiddos keeps eloping (running away) and it's getting really dangerous at school (I cannot be at school per insurance billing), do you have any suggestions? I would rather NOT tether them to their paraprofessional.

    4. Last one!
    My last question is, one of my kiddos is VERY sensitive to loud noises, how can we help them feel better when the cars ROAR by?

    I would love to meet you, you incredible boy :)