Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Freedom of Speech for Everyone

I am happy people are writing ASHA. We need to come together as individuals, supporters, and advocates who want to see everyone’s right to freedom of speech protected and preserved. 

I think ASHA would be violating its own ethics if it were to pass its proposals on RPM and FC. Peace is being able to express myself in writing. I am free to use my own words when I type my words. I don’t need to worry about saying the wrong word or not being understood by my poor enunciation.  

Typing is better than PECS and picture based communication.  I don’t think in pictures like Temple Grandin. I love word forms of communication. There are so many words to choose. Each has a little different meaning like delicious and savory. I like to have full access to all the words at my disposal. Pictures don’t allow this freedom. I can’t distinguish between a good day and one that filled me with awe watching God paint the sky with luminescent pink, orange, and glorious beams of sun bursting through majestic clouds. I was made to express myself in my way no matter if it is different than the majority. No one should have the right to stop me or anyone else from communicating. 

I have been listening to various letters written to ASHA. Some are passionate. Others are logical. I love that people have different personalities that come out in the words they choose. I want all people to be able to express themselves. With RPM we learn to express ourselves showing who we really are in our personalities. I am writing to keep my voice and protect the future of freedom of speech. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

An Open Letter to ASHA

The following letter is in response to the proposed policy on Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) drawn by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Ad Hoc Committee on Facilitated Communication (FC) and Rapid Prompting Method (RPM).  The proposed policy can be read here.

Hello ASHA Committee, 

My name is Philip Reyes. I am an RPM user. I am writing you to reconsider your position on RPM. I cannot communicate my ideas without someone to help me in various ways. I need help to start, stay on track, get through impulsive loops, and calm me so I can spell my thoughts on a letterboard or keyboard. I am asking you to put yourself in my shoes. I would be trapped in my own mind if not given RPM. I have tried many other methods to learn to communicate: ABA, speech, OT, Alt-Chat, and PECS. I was not able to make more than a few simple requests using those methods. I wanted to say much more. I was frustrated most of the time. I could not do much in school. I was made to do very basic lessons over and over without hope I would advance. I never want to return to those methods because they did not work for me. I could not express my true thoughts and feelings with them. 

I fear that passing this proposal will take away the support I have at school. I have made so much progress at school. I started at regular public school in grade five. I am happy with how far I have come. When I started, I had lots of meltdowns and anxiety. I had poor self-regulation. I was not good at communicating. I started in all special education classes except specials. I slowly got better at spelling with everyone and regulating my body. I got to add more regular classes with my neurotypical peers. I got to have more normal experiences. I even walked across the stage for 8th grade graduation and got to go to the dance. I am now finishing my Freshman year in high school. I have two amazing aides who support me so I can participate in regular classes and take the tests. I have teachers who believe in me and cheer for me. I have gotten better at sitting calmly and controlling my body. I even gave a presentation in front of my global studies class. I love school so much. 

I fear the proposal will prohibit educators from working with me unless I can type completely independently.  This may take me a very long time.  I cannot waste my life while trying to become perfectly independent. 

I urge ASHA members to do what is humane and good. Think of me and the many others who can be given a voice and a better life because of RPM.

Yours truly, 

If you would like to contact ASHA to voice your support for RPM, here are the ways they can be contacted:

    Postal Mail
    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 
    Attn: Board of Directors
    2200 Research Boulevard
    Rockville, MD 20850-3289 USA

  2. ASHA Board of Ethics: ethics@asha.org
  3. ASHA Governance: governance@asha.org
  4. ActionAlertASHA@gmail.com