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:
  3. ASHA Governance:


  1. Wow! Philip this is perfect. Thank you for such a great piece.

  2. Way to advocate for yourself and others, Philip!