What people say:
RPM has totally changed the way we see Colm. We had given up on any progress in communication so RPM seems like a miracle. To hear his voice after all these years is a priceless gift! To see your son, diagnosed as severely learning disabled, move to learning from Junior Cert cycle books is nothing short of miraculous to us. Most worthwhile thing we have ever done and we can’t recommend it highly enough.
From my point of view, I think Soma is the Mother Teresa of autism for inventing RPM. We are finally getting to know John. He has spelled for us “I am very underestimated in my abilities. I’m really autistic but like autistic people everywhere I am helping to change attitudes”. Imagine a year from now, what our amazing boys will have shared.
It is like meeting your son for the first time. In an English lesson with Alex Hopwood , Darragh gave his thoughts on the word ‘Quiet’. He said “It’s not great to be really quiet. Because you don’t have a way to communicate. I think that having a way to communicate is so important. It is wonderful to be able to get my thoughts out.”
The past two years since we discovered RPM have been life-changing for us and for Fiacre. Prior to this, Fiacre seemed to be functioning at a very basic academic level. In school and in his after –school ABA programme at the Athas Centre in Kiltimagh, Fiacres’ goals were at junior school level eg “Fiacre will identify numbers 1 to 5”. This year I have completed the first year Junior Cert programme in Project Maths with Fiacre, using a laminated mathematical number board. He got 100% in the same end of year test as his classmates. Fiacre’s progress is not just academic, he is calmer and more sociable, we can reason with him now, and he can communicate his frustrations. After a few months of RPM, his primary school, Newport NS, reported that he was a different child. The staff were very committed to using RPM, and integrated Fiacre into age appropriate classes. They have continued to use RPM with younger students in the autism unit, with very successful outcomes. On leaving Primary school, Fiacre’s NEPS assessment placed him as ‘higher function ing’ and his Speech and Language assessment recorded average language skills at his age level, despite time limitations on these tests. Fiacre is now in Secondary school taking 8 Junior Cert subjects, thanks to RPM. His life and his future have changed completely, and we are forever grateful to have found RPM. After trying countless other therapies down through the years, we have finally found the key to unlocking autism.
Fiacre spelled at a workshop with Alex Hopwood in February 2015: “I think that a lot of autistic people experience suffering in their lives because no one thinks they are smart , but now that I am able to talk through my pointing my life is so much better”.
Adam was diagnosed with moderate/severe autism at 28 months. He attended Athas ABA school for three years (3 ½ years to 6 ½ years) where he received 1:1 intensive ABA therapy with minimal progress. Adam started in Swinford Autism Unit in 2011, where he continued to make minimal academic progress and Adam experienced frustrations in his inability to communicate and peoples misunderstanding of him and his intelligence.
In September 2013 Adam started RPM where he proved within the first three days that he had in fact no receptive language difficulty. He understood every word spoken to him and for the first time in his life answered questions asked of him correctly. This first workshop was the start of a new life for Adam and for us, his family. This year Adam was partially integrated into 4th class (age appropriate) where he completed the mainstream curriculum in english, history, geography and maths. He walks into school with a smile each day and I can honestly say that his level of frustration at school has been minimal since he started using RPM.
His communication through RPM has improved so much that his SLT has applied for a light writer for him, which is the final stage of RPM, where he will type independently with a voice output. This will give Adam a voice for the first time in his life enabling him to show the smart, funny, caring boy that he is. He is now a happier child, more confident, minimal aggression. Of course he still has issues related to his autism eg impulsivity and anxiety, and he remains non verbal. But all of these issues are much more easily managed because of our new understanding of Adam and his autism.
To say that RPM has changed his life is an understatement, it has saved him from a future we do not even allow ourselves to imagine. Adam is not unique, we believe all non verbal “low functioning” persons with autism can learn to communicate through RPM. Adam has told us time and again that he is desperate for an education and is thankful that RPM has “taken him out of his world of silence”. He is very conscious of the fact that other children could benefit from RPM and is very anxious that they do so.
Because of this, Caroline, together with Mary Cotter and Carmel Ryan have set up the support group RPM Ireland.
My son Seosamh has autism, epilepsy and osteoporosis. Over the years we have tried everything with our son: Intensive ABA, PECS, TEACHH, Verbal Behaviour, etc, and while they all helped to a small degree, he made little progress. By the age of 16 he was still almost non verbal, had violent behaviours and was deemed to have a moderate learning disability. We started doing RPM with Seosamh in May 2014 and quickly discovered that he has no difficulty learning. Now one year later his violent behaviours are gone, he is studying junior cert subjects and is able to fully communicate with us by spelling full sentences on a letterboard. This has transformed his and our lives. Now Seosamh can tell us when he feels he is going to have a seizure and how he feels after a seizure. He can tell us his level of pain and when he needs pain relief. He can now converse with his doctors to discuss his medical treatments. He has spelled that before RPM he was terrified and now he feels liberated. He recently spelled: “Loved when Mammy and Daddy found RPM. Radiant hopes filled my mind”.
This is the difference, inside one yea , that RPM has made to Seosamh’s life. Seosamh has recently moved schools to St Brids Special School Autism Unit to avail of RPM, as the school has introduced RPM to a number of its students this year.