RPM: Ms. E and Filbert

philfaceBefore coming to college I had never had an extra thought for autism. In my mind it was a mental disability that some people had and I didn’t. Nobody in my life had autism, but I do have a mentally handicap aunt. That is the closest experience I have had and she is fully equipped to tell you just how she feels.

Filbert changed my worldview. I did not realize how naive I was towards autism. Filbert is the most hilarious and happiest boy I know. I started off reading books aloud to him the first semester of my freshman year. It was different from any situation I had ever dealt with. He talked, but not always what he wanted to say. Something I had to learn was that when he repeated phrases that was not because he didn’t hear or misunderstand you, he fully understood.

My experience really changed when I watched an RPM lesson for the first time in person. Filbert was capable to answer questions. He would be voicing different phrases from his mouth while his hands paid attention to the lesson. My body was able to listen to my brain and function in a precise way while his had this whole different channel. That was incredible. He is so intelligent, way smarter than I was at his age. He is for sure smarter than I am now.

At that moment I didn’t realize that I would have the privilege of doing RPM with Filbert. My first RPM lesson, during my second semester, went great for a beginner. He was so patient with me and excited. He pointed accurately and just gave me a great show. There have been times where different stims excite him too much and it gets difficult, but the times that he is able to visibly show me what he has learned have been worth it all. The first time I heard him say, “hi Miss Erin,” melted my heart. The times that I get a dance party or hug after a session are extremely entertaining. Our shared poop jokes and laughter are great times well spent with a funny boy. He has the biggest heart for God and the strongest faith of anyone that I know. He has taught me way more than I could ever teach him.

Mr. T: Who would have thought?

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0267.Who would have thought I could be so blind, I mean I do have a strong glasses prescription but It goes deeper than that.

I was aware of Autism, but at the same time I wasn’t. Here is a kid full of energy just like every other kid. Here is a kid who loves to laugh, and have fun just like every other kid . Here is a kid who is just as smart if not smarter than any kid his age. Mrs. Em explained it as “ your mind and your body being on two different pages”. My first thought, well I must be Autistic because my mind and body are never on the right page. I finally met Filbert and just by looking at him, you wouldn’t guess just by looking at him that he is autistic. When you see Filbert, all you see is the 7 year old kid.

Filbert has this way of making your lowest, slowest day fast and upbeat. When I enter the house and he sees me, he darts for the bedroom, and he does it everyday. He has a huge heart, and he wants to actually keep getting better and improving.

When I started working out with him, it was a bit of a struggle, mostly for me because Filbert is practically a freakish athlete. I never actually worked with someone before, where I made the workouts and then trained them, but it was so dope. When we first started, Filbert’s body was so tight, and his core and upper body wasn’t as strong.  

As weeks go by, our trust and faith in one another grows. When I come Filbert knows I believe in him and want to see him succeed I know Filbert wants to get better and succeed. As I see him progress more and more, I just notice more and more how he’s just like every other person.

Now that I have been working with Filbert for a while and have a more of an understanding about autism. It’s sort of like a decathlon, so many different aspects go into, and can have an effect on it. Filbert has a great team behind him, and the way Filbert’s motivation level is setup, there is no doubt in my mind that we will be breaking that decathlon record.

Who would have thought a 7 year old could do algebra? Who would have thought a 7 year old would help me make a career choice ? Who would have thought Team Filbert would help change my life ?

Autism: Classical Conversations & RPM

philrrMy son Filbert is 8 years old, diagnosis of severe autism, and is able to communicate verbally for wants and needs.

We decided to join a Classical Conversations Community this school year as the program just makes so much sense.

Here are the reason I feel it works for us:

  1. Our community is inclusive, kind, respectful, loving, and ask wonderful questions about my son; treating him with the upmost respect. They see him as God’s amazing creation just like their own kiddos. —so appreciated!
  2. Music and movement help any child remember information including mine. Even if he cannot do all the actions or say all the words he is hearing them and learning them. I hear many things I never say aloud that I remember — I imagine you do to. Same for my boy, so there an abundance of info in his brain from cycle 1.
  3. Being with other children his age for community day, once a week, is great balance as it requires lots of work for him to keep his body controlled. He gets to practice this, but does not have to stress about that daily.
  4. Love using the Classical Conversations memory work to build lesson plans off of for him to spell via RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) his responses.
  5. His community class has been patient and respectful as he spells parts of his presentations via letter board for them to see him communicate — like a dream for me!
  6. Classical Conversations provides Filbert with a well-rounded education including fine arts – he did well with the tin whistle, loves making art, and has really enjoyed the music. Love that he is learning more that just the core subjects.

Filbert like all children everywhere is capable of learning. We just have to find the best way to teach. For Filbert and all nonverbal or limited verbal autistics I have seen Rapid Prompting Method does work! It requires practice and patience as you both learn it, but getting to know my child and seeing him have the education he deserves makes it all worth it.

Shout out to our CC community. I could not feel more abundantly blessed by you all! 

Ms. G: Filbert & Fine Motor

LeaveitoutsideSimply put, Filbert blows me away everyday. Every single day I admire his will to keep pushing himself and never giving up. Society says autistic children will not be able to learn much or perhaps not learn how to speak. Filbert and so many other kids are shredding those common beliefs.

Through occupational therapy, fine motor skill development, and physical training Filbert has developed so much body control and muscle memory. Some of the tasks Filbert has learned through exercising his fine motor are:

  1. zipping his jacket
  2. buttoning a shirt
  3. crocheting a scarf
  4. folding laundry
  5. writing
  6. drawing
  7. brushing his teeth

Recently Filbert has been working on tying his shoes. He is making progress everyday and getting closer and closer to being able to do it by himself. Persistence and confidence are essential.

Persistence to keeping gently pushing Filbert even when it’s hard and confidence that he can do whatever he sets his mind too. Filbert is the most intelligent boy I have ever met and can do whatever he would like. It just takes training his body to cooperate with his mind.
Em’s guidance, advice, and knowledge have continued to help me learn the best ways Filbert learns; so we maximize our times together and continue to progress and increase his muscle memory.

So much more than “thank you”

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It’s been forever since I last posted. So much has happened: good, bad, & wonderful. So much growth has transpired as a team, personally, & in Filbert. There are countless soapboxes I have explored, passions I have honed and moments that have overwhelmed me to the point of frustration or happy tears. Life is so full. It’s an unpredictable adventure that I wouldn’t change for the world. I feel as though my life is where the rubber meets the road, being guarded or fake is impossible when the stakes are so high with limited time and entrenched loving investment.

Today I choose to share a glimpse of what I see in my life daily. I wake up to the sweet sound of my youngest babbling, my husband broiling bacon, my daughter choosing her outfit and the perfect key of my oldest, Filbert, singing. Breakfast is a mixture of chaos, connection and nutrition. Then the academic day begins with devotional, copy work, geography, history timeline, math and English. Within the hour the first member of our family arrives ready to enthrall Filbert’s brain with stories of the past; a Roman solider, the spread of Christianity and the like. Next up strolls in family member number two who will exercise with Filbert to get his body focused. He is kind and assured with a twist of challenge encouraging Filbert to grow. The next family member joins the fun with an air of grace, compassion and love as she guides him through fine motor exercises each one designed to increase his independence and inclusiveness within our unit.

Then I get the opportunity to share the world of science, invention and discovery with him teaching him the wonderfully gross composition of stool, vomit, and skunk smells. After an intense line up we have an hour to catch our breath outside or read a book aloud. Then we get to see yet another family member come dancing in full of literary devices ready to share the world in a more abstract form; she gracefully and patiently paints a picture that encourages Filbert to get on board and share his thoughts. Just before lunch the sound of laughter fills the air as our penultimate family member bounds through the door to once again help Filbert connect his brain and body. Lots of giggles, stretching, singing and toning happens in chorus as they work together. The mornings work is done, lunch is ready, and it’s no wonder Filbert feels accomplished his fingers, body and brain all full; his belly just one step behind.

The afternoon is full of outside time, art, and read alouds when our concluding family member comes in ready to calculate their way through math. At the day’s end there is a bucket that just overflows with the privilege of knowing all these wonderful family members daily journey with us in love, persistence and patience.

Community at our little house is not a word, it’s an experience that warms my heart each day. Without our beloved family I know all our hearts would be less full; thankfully God graciously gave us each other.

I have thought and thought about how to thank this amazing family, but words escape me. How can really put into words what it is to daily tangibly change someone’s life, and aid in making the impossible possible for their exceptional child. It’s the kind of thing you feel all the way to your core and I simply pray I can do the same for someone else some day.

And this is only half of our story, there is more to our team of wonderful peeps to be shared in the next post.