Generalizing: RPM is for Verbal Students 2 and Other Assistance for Understanding and Helping RPM Students--Part 3
"IT IS LIKE A MENTAL BLOCK. MY MOUTH (HAND OR FINGER) IS FROZEN BUT MY MIND IS CLEAR."-Matteo on generalizing
In part 1 we discussed literacy and the connection or disconnection to speech.
In part 2 we discussed how RPM and the letterboard assist students to be educated and communicate more fully.
In part 3 we will discuss generalizing to skills beyond the letter board. (Most videos are under 2 minutes)
Generalizing is a real issue all of us face. Lack of generalizing is not a behavior. To generalize is to assimilate and accommodate--that is to modify and add to existing knowledge to function. So for example: I drive one car and then I drive a different car. Each car has small differences in where things are at, how to turn on the wipers, if you are driving manually or stick shift. For most of us we just check around and adapt very fast. In autism the process is a bit slower--nothing to do with intelligence but with mental mapping and equilibrium- balance between cognitive, motor, and emotions. You can read more about this in any of Soma Mukhopadhyay's books, I recommend "Understanding Autism Through Rapid Prompting Method" chapter 4 and 8 ("the red book" we sometimes call it in the RPM world :). You can obtain your own copy here or here.
Fading the Visual Prompt and Increasing Intention
For a student who is fluent on the letterboard, these boards in actuality are not too big of a jump although students still have to generalize. They progressively get harder and if I jump too fast, the student stops talking because retrieval of getting the letter name to come out of their mouth becomes too difficult. They still know the letter, but there is no visual prompt to trigger the letter name to come out of their mouth.
Side note: One of the great things about RPM is how individualized and flexible it is. When done correctly it caters to the student to what will help them be successful. So long as you follow the rules and stay true to the principles of RPM you have all the creativity you want to help a student succeed on their way to independence and a fulfilling life. So while some students won't need to ever use one of the three following boards, for some they may be helpful.
Generalizing to Another Person
In this video you will see Matteo generalizing to his father (AKA the best dad in the world :) ). At the end I have inserted a clip of him working with me that same day so you can see how the spelling looks different. His dad and I have different reflexes. We also have different styles. I have been doing RPM for some time and his dad is just beginning. Matteo has also encoded certain rules in his mind about his father (like he has any person--whether a new person into the RPM environment or someone familiar previously in his life). (You can find more about encoding also in "the red book" chapter 8.) This changes the results.
Some words he is easily able to spell for his dad--some of the more familiar known words ('outdoors' but not 'conservation'). (For some students they wouldn't be able to spell any word for the other person on the first session without a lot more prompts. Each student is different.) At the end he spells "TOOT" for his "other word for oath" while Matteo got distracted and was blowing bubbles, the words was simply random letters. He was not having a behavior. He really couldn't spell another word for "oath" at the time for his dad. He needed to assimilate and accommodate the "new rpm environment"--his dad (even his dad who is involved in his life) into the RPM equation, which he now has.
When you first start RPM with your child and your child is spelling words for the provider and you are getting nothing...this is what is happening. Sure your child might have some behaviors too, but in the beginning it is never solely because "he just won't spell for me." At first your child can't...and in some cases, yes resistances is involved for a number of reasons--however, sometimes I have heard parents say "my child refuses to spell for me" and I can see there is no behavior, so just something to look out for. You are both learning--you the technique and how to do it and your child how to encode you into this new task. We all are learners.
Below, Matteo is generalizing or transferring his spelling skills to himself. There is a change in skill: He has to involved the other hand-so now he is coordinating two hands while at the same time focusing well enough to get his complete thoughts out. We start out shadowing. He spells for me and then takes the board to respell. Normally we do this word by word. Here I am just showing you that while the motor skills are there to spell the word for himself, the retrieval of the word is the difficulty. He also has to get use to his own reflexes and rhythm.
"IT IS LIKE LICKING ICE CREAM AND MY MOUTH GETTING FROZEN ON THE LAST LICK"-Spelled after the above video but on transferring in general
Transferring to Skills Beyond the Letterboard
Here we discuss generalizing the communication learned to other modalities. I specifically have chosen speech and handwriting, but typing is another one he does. At this point his family can dictate to him and he can send a text or type something out. Sometimes he can get a few words of his own thinking out too.
This first one is on speech. Remember from our part 1 that he is able to say many words, but some words he isn't able to say without a model first. He knows the meaning, but his language center is not entirely connected to his speech output center. This can be improved and this is what we are doing. Working on him retrieving the right word until the pathway is formed so that no letteboard is needed. It is a long goal, but that is fine, he will get better and better at it.
I am doing a lesson review and so he is having to retrieve the word. At first he uses the letterboard, the second half I use the dot board to fade the visual but give him the chance to use muscle memory for him to retrieve the word. He is given a chance to retrieve, if he doesn't I present the board and take it as soon as I can see he has it. The process of transferring to speech began with saying each letter. He already does that, I don't need to say much in his session as he spells. When we first started having him say the letters got in his way so we focused on production of thoughts and then speech once that was in.
Now for handwriting. Handwriting is a very important skill. Even though in our day we don't do a lot of handwriting it grows the neurons and helps with creativity. It is a great skill to transfer too. Few doubt if the student is the once communicating if the student can handwrite.
At first we start letter by letter. Now he can do some words at a time. Sometimes a sentence. He spells it out and then handwrites. If he gets stuck then he give him the letter board as a visual prompt to help him retrieve what he wrote. The spelling on the board goes into episodic memory. He has said before that the space between spelling and then writing is like floating in air with no foundation.
Just because your child can't currently handwrite doesn't mean he or she can't learn. Trust me I have seen teenage students learn to handwrite when they couldn't before RPM after years of trying. If you will motor model and then require independence you will see it come-avoid just practicing writing the student's name that can trigger a bad emotional reaction-try chapter one of "the red book" for ideas on starting...at first you will start with just writing the letters and not transferring from the letter board to the paper although you can use the letter board as a visual. It will help with aim and accuracy.
You can learn more about transferring to handwriting in the book called "Developing Motor Skills for Autism Using Rapid Prompting Method" By Soma Mukhopadhyay which can be purchase here or here.
Stay tuned for part 4. It will be about retrieval skills (Unless I choose social or other skills to do first :)) which are closely connected to these skills. Retrieval can be strengthened and important to develop.
I hope you are finding these useful!