We were fortunate enough to have Ryan participate in a local workshop in the area in which Ryan would get two sessions (thirty minutes in length each) with Soma Mukhopadhyay, the creator of Rapid Prompt Method. I gave Ryan a few choices today of what he wanted to talk about for the blog and he chose his sessions with Soma.
The workshop was hosted by a friend named Michelle, whom I connected with on Facebook prior to our move to the Fort Worth area. Michelle’s son uses RPM to communicate and Michelle is a provider herself. She was kind enough to ensure that Ryan got one of the few spots available for children to work with Soma. The rest of the spots were for parents, teachers, therapists, and others to come and observe Soma working with the children and to participate in a question and answer session at the end of each day of the two day workshop. Soma, the student, and the student’s parents were in a small room and Michelle used a camera with a Iive feed to broadcast the session to the larger room of observers.
Ryan and Soma’s sessions covered a poem, jokes, a LESSON ON A WEIRD TOPIC (requested by Ryan), WEIRD BIRDS (requested by Ryan too), and an opportunity for creative writing in both sessions.
I asked Ryan, “How did you feel about your sessions with Soma?” NOT SUPER HAPPY ABOUT IT. “Why?” GOING TO STENCILS WAS HARD FOR ME. (Soma used the 26 stencil letter board with Ryan so that the parents could see Ryan selecting and pointing to the letters better. This required Ryan to hold a pencil and to poke through the letters on the stencil. Ryan normally uses just his finger on a laminated flat 26 letter board, but the parents would not have been able to see which letters Ryan was choosing from the camera view. Soma explained this to Ryan and me as soon as she began the session). “Ryan, you still were able to be very accurate and spell your answers and thoughts with the stencil, right?” YES BUT IT TOOK LONGER. “Do you understand why Soma used the stencil?” YES.
“What did you think about the content of the lessons?” GOOD AS ALWAYS.
“Do you have anything else to say about the workshop?” I LOVE SOMA. SHE MAKES ME A BETTER PERSON LIKE NO ONE ELSE CAN. SHE IS AMAZING IN EVERY WAY.
“Since we are in Texas now, we can hopefully get you on a list to see Soma every quarter. Do you know what that means?” YES FOUR TIMES A YEAR. “Would you like that?” YES.
“What would you tell parents that say RPM is too hard or that my child won’t do what Ryan does?” I WOULD SAY NOT TRUE. SO MANY AUTISTICS NEED RPM IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. “Ryan, Soma was talking a bit about this in her question and answer session with the adults. She said that she has seen students who have used letterboards all day in school and they are so tired and worn out and angry because it is hard to do and she has seen students who don’t have aggressive or self injurious behaviors start having them as a result of it. What do you think of that?” NOT SURE ABOUT THAT. “I wonder if it might be best that the school stick to two RPM sessions a day like Soma and the other providers suggest.” YES.
“What would you tell the parents who say that RPM is too hard?” KEEP TRYING. HAVE PATIENCE. STICK WITH IT. NOT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO HAVE A NORMAL LIFE WITHOUT RPM. “Do you think that you have a normal life?” YES. “Did you think that you had a normal life before RPM?” NOT REALLY.
I thought that I would leave you with some of the content of one of the sessions with Soma. In one of the sessions, Ryan and Soma did a lesson on the Emily Dickinson poem I’m Nobody! Who are you? Ryan wanted to write a letter at the end of the lesson. Here it is.
I LIKE TO BE YOUR FRIEND. I LIKE TO FORGET THAT WE ARE SOME PEOPLE. PEOPLE HAVE TOO MUCH TO REMEMBER AND ACTUALLY I THINK IT IS SILLY. THANK YOU FOR BEING NOBODY.
Link to the poem: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/im-nobody-who-are-you-260
Link to Soma RPM: https://www.halo-soma.org