RPM gives its students the ability to participate in any setting. Many students using RPM struggle to get their mind, body and emotions to work in harmony. If your child is autistic he/she likely fits this category. Mostly non-speaking (also, not conversational, but can say words speaking) individual have extreme difficulty in these connections otherwise they would talk and function “normally.” That they function in an alternate way doesn’t have to exclude them from developing friendships, learning self-help skills, a typical education, etc. RPM not only allows students to express their thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and reasoning, but also allows participation in games and other social skills.
Students of RPM have to learn to transfer skills they have in instinctual activities (actions done impulsively that give immediate pleasure to one or more of the senses) to purposeful activities (activities done on request, delay in/ no pleasure, intentional action). This works best if a student learns to master spelling out thoughts on a 2D surface or environment like a letterboard. Then these skills can be transfer to the 3D environment (motor planning to do different task such as cleaning themselves or selecting an object from choices).
Student will become accurate on the letterboard, but will struggle to get their bodies to display the same intelligence exhibited when spelling on the letterboard. For example, a student may be able to explain how to wash his/her hands correctly, but then you say, “wash your hands” and the student runs off, or doesn’t move, or is unable to turn the water on. This is not an issue of understanding. (For more understanding and help please read “Developing Motor Skills for Autism Using Rapid Prompting Method” by Soma Mukhopadhyay)
Students will have to learn pursposeful action and the muscle memory to perform different task. No matter how much they want to, if they don’t receive the supports/ education to self help they will not be able to make the improvements in functioning purposefully in the environment that they are capable of.
In the videos below you will see a student playing a game of memory with me. We are using the mat with letters and numbers displayed below (you can make many game boards using paper and pencil. I made the board since drawing it over and over isn’t that helpful for time):
She points accurately to the letter on the letterboard to indicate which card she wants. When she goes to select the card, she will sometimes aim incorrectly. She is learning purposeful aim and action. I gesture and verbally prompt to help her be independent. She is improving (actually when we finished filming she was able to select some cards she wanted to select without indicating on the letterboard which one she wanted). She has also been able to play these game with friends to make friendships where she can display her intelligence in playing a game.
One can have lots of fun with RPM! Just be creative and believe…your child is full of potential with the ability to have a fulfilling life with your dedication and support.