Chapter 5 – #TeamEJ – Unlocking EJs Voice – 1st RPM Lesson

August 24, 2015

So, this was just after I had the amazing good fortune to attend Katie Anawalt’s workshops on RPM at the West Coast Communication Symposium put on by REACH (the incredible organization formerly known as WAPADH).  I had been reading about RPM ever since I read “Ido in Autismland” but honestly didn’t know if I could do it or if EJ would even sit still for a lesson.

The whole idea of video taping was really so I could get pointers from some of the awesome folks out there.  Now I’m just so glad I can look back on these.  I see things I could be doing better all over the place.  Like I’m supposed to be on his right side and I shouldn’t just let him copy type so he doesn’t develop a hard habit to break and also so that he is challenged to pull the word from memory.

This is one of the lessons from the workshop and I saw so many kids learning about eagles with their parents and I thought, “Wow, I wonder if we could do this”

One of the big messages from the symposium was that presuming capability is the least dangerous assumption.  It’s frightening to think of all the things that we aren’t teaching children with different learning styles simply because they don’t seem to be learning in the standard way.  One of the great things about RPM is that no matter what age you start at you teach to their age appropriate subject matter.  The fact that so many older students still have goals like “cat, rat, sat, fat, mat” and “the numbers 1-20” is really a shame.  If your brain is way past these concepts but your avenue to show the knowledge isn’t easy or being taught to you then you’d probably get awfully bored and frustrated and start having less pleasant behaviors.

It was not long ago that EJ would simply melt into a puddle of liquid on the ground, in the car, in the parking lot, in the store, at school or wherever he couldn’t get his message across.  Communication needs to be accessible to all.  I know I would not be pleasant if I had no way to communicate my needs, thoughts and opinions.

It is my hope that we keep trying to find the best ways to help EJ and all people with disabilities to reach for the stars.