Literacy and Connections with Speech: RPM is for Verbal Students 2 and other assistance for Understanding and Helping RPM Students--Part 1 Literacy and Connections with Speech
"I AM LIKE SO LOST VERBALLY. I KNOW THE WORD BUT CAN’T SAY IT"
Previously I have written about a verbal student called "RPM is for verbal students." You can find that post here. As I have taught a number of verbal students or read post on different RPM websites I hear many of the same questions and comments over and over again. Does my child qualify for RPM because he can....?
It can be so challenging to listen to a verbal child speaking to you "I want cookie," "Time for the car" "Nemo please!" and so forth and recognize that sometimes those phrases...often those phrase...are meaningless or are not what the child wants to say. I seek through the following post to help all understand more about verbal students as I learn to best help them as well. This will also address issues related to all students using RPM such as those who can't talk.
Throughout the post I will try and refer you to information through Soma's books where she explains what is going on in the brain.
I will also explain a lot of what I am saying with video. That is the best way I can think of to help you experience and recognize what I am talking about.
If you have a verbal child you will want to read and study "Developing Expressive Language in Autism through Rapid Prompting Method" by Soma Mukhopadhyay. You can get a copy here or here.
One of my students, Matteo, has agree to help me. He is aware of these blogs and wants to help. We deviated for a few RPM sessions from our typical sessions in hopes that we could assist you. He may or may not be like your verbal child or student, but many of the principles still apply.
An RPM sessions should include SKILL, TOLERANCE, COMMUNICATION and EDUCATION goals. Some of these task are missing one of the elements through out these post as we seek to help you understand different points. This is not our typical routine but we learned a lot together. We learned just how well crafted RPM really is. It is my hope that you will enjoy and you and your child or student benefit from them. Please recognize the kindness of my student and his family in their willingness and desire to assist. With no further adieu I begin.
Matteo is almost 13 years old. He is a bright student and eager to learn. One of his greatest gifts is his ability is being a friend and love others. He has a very inquisitive nature and wants to understand everything. He likes a challenge and thirst for a good education. I have thoroughly enjoyed my chance to teach him and associate with him. I have been enriched and educated by his presents. Thank you Matteo!
Matteo can say a number of words. He can get a number of wants and needs met verbally. He also says many things he doesn’t mean. He is able to read verbally. This video below shows a little of his verbal expression outside reading and him reading a simple passage as you can see here:
As you can see he can read. He can track those words with his eyes. He looks quite “normal.”
This is the passage he read: The cow was eating in the grass. He was black and white with a big nose. Everyone thought the cow was funny.
I made the passage with words I knew he could read confidently VERBALLY.
Those familiar with how a child learns how to read will be aware of the 5 parts of reading:
1-phonemic awareness--eg: recognizing that cat and carrot start with a /K/ sound (this is different then knowing 'cat' begins with C. This is a task for the EARS).
2-phonics--eg: knowing that A says aaa and B says bah.
3-vocabularly--understanding the meaning of words.
4-Fluency--able to read smoothly and with ease.
5-Comprehension--understanding the passage.
Some students with autism can read fluently but cannot comprehend what they read when they read out loud. However, these same students are able to hear passages and then they are able display comprehension. Usually when this is the case it has to do with spending energy on getting the words out of the mouth so the student blocks comprehension in the effort. Others are able to read out loud and comprehend the same as if someone else reads the passage to them.
If Matteo were to take a reading test he would fall well below what he can read and comprehend. This can be shown here as he reads this passage where I underlined the words he didn't say correctly or at all. Notice they are words that one wouldn't go around saying for wants or needs or identifying pictures. They are less familiar words:
I have a vague recollection of my youth. I have enough memory to reconstruct a misty image of destruction and grief.
In this video I have him read the passage. For the words he doesn't say correctly I have him define before I say them out loud. Then I have him read the passage again and you will notice that some words he says correctly this time and some he doesn't still say correctly so I help him to say them. I then ask for the meaning.
Notice he was able to comprehend the words he couldn’t say. His vocabulary was near perfect. His comprehension was also good.
His comment about struggling to say the words: "I AM LIKE SO LOST VERBALLY. I KNOW THE WORD BUT CAN’T SAY IT"
We asked about when someone tell him 'how' to say the word he said "WHEN I HEAR IT MY MOUTH SAYS IT." This has to do with mirror neurons. (You can read more about that in any of Soma's books as she reviews that concept in all of them.)
As a teacher using mainstream assessments they would never know what level he is capable of comprehending at without RPM. Most teachers would base their results off of his typing, verbal, or handwriting since he clearly has good motor skills. That is the tricky thing.
Matteo can type, handwrite and say words, but purposeful language is not used completely in those modalities. In those modalities he is able to currently produce some basic need or wants met (some selective purposeful or instinctual actions) or perform rote task like copying or writing down dictation. (He is currently generalizing his skills on the letterboard to the IPad, Keyboard, Speech and handwriting (later post).
NOTE: To understand purposeful verse Instinctual actions please read: Developing Motor Skills for Autism Using Rapid Prompting Method By Soma Mukhopadhyay page 161. You can purchase a copy here or here.
All this begs a question. What is appropriate literacy instruction for him (and many like him)?
Let’s look at our goals:
Unfortunately for many the higher level skills are not worked on as it is often assumed that if he can't say it or show it, then he doesn't know it.
I believe firmly that the large majority of autistic children are educated in reading skills well below their grade level. While Matteo is uniquely Matteo, as I have taught over 200 students this seems to be the case for the large majority (if not all) of them. They either are behind in reading because they were not taught or if they were the student was not provided with a means of out put prior to RPM that allowed for communication.