Musings from a RPM mom after 8 months and still so much to learn!

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RPM is Rapid Prompting Method. It is “a teaching method tailored to each student’s open learning channels. It empowers the learner with the best possible means to express his or her thoughts, understanding, learning and reasoning.” -Soma

1. Do you believe in your child? —The foundation of RPM is presumed competence. Truly believing in your child and knowing they are capable of learning. This means teaching age appropriate lesson. My son had not been exposed to many things, however, when I am teaching about nouns I am not going to be a complete bore. I can teach nouns in the context of an age appropriate poem or story. I can teach them within music or in combination with literary devices. The options are limitless! He needs to foundations of learning and more. So make it interesting, think about feeding him a steak each lesson, not a sprinkle of fish food — go all in knowing he can learn now that you have a medium with which to teach!

2. Why educate? —“Education provides benefits beyond assisting and supporting the autistic person in overcoming the variances in cognitive development. Education has inherent value to all people. Learning about mathematics, literature, science, history, philosophy and the other disciplines gives any person depth of understanding and expands the soul.” “It doesn’t matter what the autistic person might “do” with the education; they may never have an independent career requiring academic achievement, although one never knows. What matters is: who can the person with autism “be” with a foundation of learning?” -Soma

3. Learning Channels: knowing your child and what learning channel is open aids in the success of teaching. RPM individualizes instruction based on the open learning channels. Autistic children take in their environment differently so at times can shut off part or all of some of their senses. My son is an auditory learner for the most part, but when hearing becomes too much he relies on his vision to carry him through. Teaching him using RPM requires me to be aware when he is relying more on his ears or his vision to tailor the lesson in that regard to make him successful in learning. The four learning channels are vision, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic. Often my son needs to be kinesthetically involved in a lesson or he has trouble keeping his body in the chair. 4. Sensory Activities: Involving the student in the lesson through kinesthetic activities like drawing, tearing or writing in our lessons really helps his body and mind stay focused to learn. My son like many autistics can become distracted and has lots of impulses. My job as the teacher is to provide his body what he needs to stay attentive and pointing accurately. This may mean that I need to vary the may voice volume or accent, tear or tap (all auditory activities), rub his hand on the table or on my hand (tactile activity), hold the paper in his visual field or build something out of paper (visual activity) or the previously listed activities for kinesthetic involvement. These sensory activities not only help engage the student more, they all add to the interest and dimension of a lesson.

4. Open-Ended Communication: This is when the student spells something on their own. As in, its not something you just taught and asked a questions about with a concrete answer, it is the student responding to something in their own words. This takes time! First for the teacher to get good at positioning the board for the student to be successful, for there to be trust between teacher and student, and also for the student to be fluent in using the letterboard. This is not where you start, this develops over time. Like learning to play piano, its takes many lesson for the teacher to learn to teach and for the student to learn to play. RPM is the same. My son did amazing spelling in his own words with an RPM practitioner which happened for many reasons: her technique is flawless at keeping his body in check, the board in the best place for success and her unwavering belief in him. I am at 1-2 words of open communication with him after 6 months — clearly I still have lots to learn! However, I am making progress every day and my son is patiently waiting for me to get it right and is grateful for my effort :). In the meantime, I will teach lots of AGE APPROPRIATE (this is imperative or he will know I don’t believe in him) lessons as my skill develops to better support him and his learning each day. 
Excited as we continue on this lovely journey of getting to know my boy!

“Rather than distinguishing between “their world” and “our world,” I prefer to think of this as one world in which we all find points of interest” -Soma

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