Chapter 2: #TeamEJ – Unlocking EJs Voice – RPM and AAC

After showing videos of EJ reading and copy typing we were able to get an AAC (Assistive and Augmentative Communication) evaluation so that he could get a device to help communicate.  I wanted to make sure that it had a typing component built in which most good ones seem to have.

I had tried to read anything and everything about non-verbal kids learning to communicate.  Ido Kedar’s book “Ido in Autismland” was enthralling.  Also, the documentary, “A Mother’s Courage”.  Both of these young men and so many others met and worked with Soma Mukhopadhyay in Austin, Texas.  Her RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) has had inspirational results with her son and now so many others worldwide.  My first thought was…I NEED TO GET EJ TO AUSTIN.  And I still very much want to do just that, but her schedule is packed and suddenly I realized by pure luck we were near Darlene Hanson & WAPADH which had also had phenomenal success with communication.  One of the top RPM practitioners, Katie Anawalt, works with WAPADH.  So I went to the February 2015 free communications workshop at WAPADH (now REACH) on a Saturday morning and explained to Christina, an amazing SLP, that EJ could read some words but when it came to typing he could only copy type.  I was worried that he was only seeing the words as a single unit and couldn’t break them into letters.  Well, he proved me wrong because during that session he just started to type lists of animals.  The very next day he typed and then we drew what he typed so he’d see the benefits of typing.  By the second day he was typing a list of 30 words which happened to be every word on the screen in order from Baby McDonald.  I was floored.

So he got approved for an AAC device and now we waited…6 months later we received an iPad from the district loaded with LAMP Words for Life.  It’s a great program and once we showed EJ a path he could nail it pretty quick.  He had it over the summer but then I attended “My Voice, My Future” the West Coast Communications Symposium.

That was exactly what I needed to give me the tools and confidence to dive into working with the AAC Device and RPM.  After seeing someone use TouchChat I hoped we could get that for EJ.  The new awesome AAC person at the district, Caroline Sambrano, loaded it for EJ the first day we met.