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Boy with Autism Lets Us Into His World Via Writing

Speak outI received this letter - school paper - from a long time reader of AofA, and asked instantly if I could please share it with you our readers.  This young man uses the Rapid Prompting Method to communicate. And just listen to his thoughts.....   Rapid Prompting Method RPM empowers the learner a way to express his learning, understanding, reasoning and thoughts.

8-29-13       Narrative – High School Experience – Journal Exercise 1.8

Sam couldn’t do RPM.  He was not placing the choices in the right place.  I couldn’t touch what I wanted.  He placed the choices too far away from me.  A giant desk was between us.  I had to stretch my arm and it bothered me.  It made me tired.  My arm felt like lead. Sam also couldn’t speak.  He stuttered. 

I couldn’t show I was learning anything from Sam.  I can’t talk all the words I think and I can’t write.  I understand everything read or said to me.  It’s ironic.  I can’t talk and yet I am critical of Sam's stuttering.

All I could think about was how to hurt him.  I came up with a plan, or I had a plan, to hit him whenever I had a chance.  They had a bolster blocking me from attacking.

I sat in a lousy hard chair.  I was mad because no one knew I was smart. Stinky rotten teachers, Sam was a big black inept jerk.  The classroom had cold cinder block walls, yucky zoo classroom.  I felt I might as well be in prison.

Ellie gave a workshop on RPM.  She was wonderful.  I was sad to see her go.  She was patient and skilled.  She made me feel competent and successful.  The other teachers were patronizing.  They laughed at her as she spoke and taught.  I felt humiliated.  I just kept looking down and avoiding eye contact.

It was any other lousy day.  I sat in my seat and started to stim with my seeds.  I pick up seeds and I drop them while I watch.  I feel compelled to do it.  I feel anxious and not right.  I think of bad thoughts of hurting myself by ripping my skin all over until I bleed out.  My skin feels like it’s on fire and my brain.  It is torture because I don’t want to do it.  It makes it hard to function.  I can’t complete any task I want to do.  Typing is something I would like to complete so I can talk to every person I want to.

 Sam said,” It’s time to work.”  I got up from my desk.  I felt pain, in my head.  It felt like it was going to explode, pressure in my sinuses and behind my eyes, like a grenade.  I lunged toward John to attack.  I was frustrated from always being wrong.  Sam pushed me.  My head hit a chair. I felt intense pain on the right side.  It throbbed like a drum.  I thought they would kill me and get away with it because they were teachers.  I cried and wished Mom was there to teach me as well as Sam.



Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB

Spend a penny or two on Christmas Eve!
Amazon is currently selling, at one penny each, I kid you not, the book “Strange Son” by Portia Iversen (about her son, Dov Shestack) and the book “The Mind Tree: a Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism” by Tito.

I don’t have the books at hand, as I left them in USA, but each tells how RPM, Rapid Prompting Method, works. As I recall, the mother sits on one side of the child (I forget whether it’s left or right, but it is not optional) and presses the child’s knee, saying “Hurry what’s the answer?” Both of the boys (Tito is now a poet and a good one) report that the pressure put by the mother helped them organize their thoughts. They then used a keyboard to spell the answer to a simple question, such as “What is the capital of Florida?” Dov conquered the alphabet in Hebrew as well as in English.

I am not from an afflicted family. I am a citizen (in Adelaide, Australia) who goes nuts over the autism issue. I see that Carly Fleischmann offers individualized answers to Moms on her website as to what she went through before she could communicate. (Youtube shows Carly as a head-banger at age 7; she is now 23).
Example: “Q. Carly, did you ever scream for what seemed like no reason? Like you showed a happy face, and everything was calm and relaxed, but you just start screaming? My daughter does it. Thanks!
A. I love this question. She is audio filtering and breaking down sounds noises and conversation throughout the day. Other than the screaming you might see crying or laughing fits and even anger. It’s our reaction from finally understanding things that were said and done last min; last day; last month. SHE IS FINE AND TELL HER TO KEEP IT UP.”

Andrea M Clarke

Please help! I received an email from the mom and my daughter was playing on my computer, and poof, dumped. I need to respond and follow through, please contact me Many thanks!

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for sharing this expression. I know in a small measure that interaction can be extremely frustrating and repellant when the ability to express oneself seems to be reduced below what most take for granted. I still struggle to understand how life impacts my daughter with her own challenges. The recording of this experience is very helpful and very appreciated.

Dawn Tollefson

Today I sat and watched my own son during therapy, as I watched his therapist said, you do realize your son is incredibly intelligent, I nodded as she said it. After reading this I realize how intelligent our children really are. It's a curse for them to not be able to communicate their thoughts to us. Thank you so much to this mom for sharing this valuable piece, it is very indicative of the depth of thought our children feel and are never able to communicate. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I'll listen to what my son says and more to what he doesn't say as this tells me much about how he feels to be locked in a body that doesn't respond in the verbal ways our world requires.

Tim Kasemodel

We learned our son could spell at age 3 when he guided our hands as we drew letters on the chalkboard.

We knew he could read around age 7 when he would turn on the computor, click on the internet icon, go to favorites, find his own name and then pick from a number of websites he enjoyed. He especially liked PBS kids and would play around with the word and alphabet games with some level of success and awareness.

Because he can not do this on command or with consitency is no reason to doubt his intelegence but that is not the way we have been taught to see things.

Even though I have no proof, I have always believed that my son is listening to himself talk in his head just as we talk out loud. My wife and I respond to his monosylabic vocalizations just as if he were speaking a whole sentance and he smiles so much. He knows we are hearing his whole thought, not just the sound that most would hear as unintelegible (sp?) and require him to make 4 or 5 more attempts at clarity before giving in to his requests.

I pray that someday he will be able to use technology to share his deepest thoughts. Until then, I will continue to be grateful for the level of communication he has.

I want to give a big thanks to the student who shared this as it gives me a chilling insight into what might be going on in my own son's mind as he bravely goes to school each day.


Please more on this story. I want to teach my son to write so we can communicate better.


RPM is appears to be a bridge in the labyrinth of autism, allowing a safe passage over the chasm which gaps the land of silence to the world of communication. What a huge relief and release it must be to finally be able to express thoughts and intelligence that have been hidden and bottled up for so many years. I can't begin to fathom the degree of frustration felt by someone who can share thoughts so eloquently now, but for years was trapped in his own mind and body and at the mercy and judgement of those who equated non-verbal with non-intelligence. God bless!

Alison MacNeil

I'm so moved by this. I'm a huge fan of this young man and I've been thrilled to watch him grow and heal over the last couple of years. His mother is a dynamo and one of the best examples of "Never Give Up" I have ever seen!!!

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