Well that week flew by.
Monday morning was difficult. I had a meeting at Ryan’s school with the Augmentative Communication Specialist, the Speech Therapist, the Diagnostician, and Ryan’s teacher to discuss communication needs for Ryan. We brought Ryan in and this was the first time that he had struggled in front of others when spelling with the letter board. He kept repeating NOT SURE for all of the answers to the questions by the teachers. I was frustrated and disappointed and I know that he was. I was unsure of how to help him. He was struggling with me at home too. He was angry during lessons and had difficulty attending. Unfortunately I believe that he was stressed out with everything going on at school.
This past Monday through Wednesday we helped host Lenae Crandall of H.E.E.D. RPM in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She worked with a total of 10 local families over the course of those 3 days. Some of the students were already using RPM and others were brand new to it.
Lenae practiced having Ryan shadow his spelling on a keyboard and she also practiced having him hold his own letter board to spell. Both of these are new skills for Ryan and it will take time for him to become fluent with either of these new skills. We will practice this at home with known answers and rhyming words and continue to have him answer open ended with me holding the board for now.
It was a very positive experience for all of those involved and it was great for Ryan to be able to have sessions again with Lenae. My goal is to bring in Lenae and other RPM providers on a regular basis in order to form a very solid RPM community here in the DFW Metroplex.
During Ryan’s second to last session, I asked Michelle Hammons (another parent of a child using RPM) if we could have a joint session with her son, Jake, who is in high school. I felt as though it would be great for Ryan to be able to converse with someone else who uses the letter board since he had that camaraderie in San Jose with other RPM students. I also thought that it would be great for Jake to possibly take on somewhat of a mentor role to Ryan.
Here is their conversation:
Ryan: HI. HOW ARE YOU?
Jake: PRETTY GOOD THANKS.
Ryan: SORRY I CANT STOP (he was spitting on the table and then spreading it with his fingers)
Jake: IT IS HARD I AGREE.
Ryan: OK. I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO HAVE A DATE WITH A GIRL.
Jake: WELL FIRST DONT SPIT.
Ryan: SERIOUSLY I WANT TO KNOW.
Jake: OK. SECOND MAKE SURE SHE IS AUTISTIC SO SHE WILL UNDERSTAND YOU.
Ryan: OK. I THINK SHE WILL HAVE TO WRITE HER THOUGHTS WITH A LETTER BOARD.
Jake: I AGREE. I DO THAT SO I CAN FEEL COMFORTABLE.
Ryan: I THINK SHE IS GOING TO BE A BLIND DATE IF MY MOM IS UP TO IT.
Jake: I AGREE BUT EVENTUALLY SHE IS NOT GOING TO BE SO BAD AFTER ALL.
Ryan: I AM SURE MOM WILL DO WELL.
Jake: I ALMOST GOT MARRIED BUT MOM SAID WAIT.
Ryan: WHAT THE HECK! I AM SURE MOM IS RIGHT.
Jake: I AM KIDDING. I ONCE TRIED TO GET MARRIED TO A GOOSE BUT IT FAILED.
Ryan: OK. I AM NOW GOING TO CONFESS TO MY FUTURE MARRIAGE TO A COW.
Jake: HA HA. WHO WANTS A COW?
Ryan: WHO WANTS A GOOSE?
Jake: REALLY DATING IS FUN SO ENJOY. (Jake’s mom Michelle mentions that he has a girlfriend)
Ryan: WAIT YOU DO?
Jake: REALLY CUTE GIRL IN MY THOUGHTS. MARYANNE IS NOT HER NAME. (Michelle shows Ryan a picture of Jake’s actual girlfriend who is autistic and communicates with RPM)
Ryan: SHE IS CUTE.
Jake: WELL NICE TALKING.
Ryan: HAVE A NICE DAY.
Their session time was up.
I think that this was huge for Ryan. Since this interaction, Ryan has been back “on” again and has been doing well with me at home. He has been very forthcoming with his thoughts and ideas and his spelling is on point. Later that night, Ryan then spelled for me (after I asked him what he thought of Jake) HAVE REAL CONNECTION WITH HIM.
The lesson that I have learned is to not underestimate the power of friendship and that by supporting Ryan with RPM and by bringing in quality providers who can help him and enrich his skills, he will only flourish as a result.
Have a great Labor Day weekend! It is going to be a wonderful, family filled one for us!