It has been almost one year since our son James had the opportunity to use the RPM method of communication with Soma Mukhopadhyay. James is verbal but not conversational, and his speech is best described as being very “unreliable” as well as hard to understand. James has gone from almost no real communication to total communication in 6 months.
Needless to say it has changed everything for him and for us. I tell people it is bigger than marriage, childbirth or winning the lottery. It seems as though every day we learn something really big about James and his heart and mind.
When I first realized that a lot of what we thought about James was wrong, I called Dan Olmsted. Over coffee I told him, “I think mercury toxicity creates silent geniuses.” I’ve always been certain that thimerosal and my dental amalgams caused James’ regressive autism and I am now fairly certain that a huge percentage of children or young adults with autism are not intellectually disabled, not even learning disabled, but so severely sensory-motor disabled they can’t show us.
We thought James, who is 14, was around 2nd grade in his academic understanding and that was spotty. When we decided to homeschool and let him use the letter board fo spelling answers, he was able to do 9th grade work in just a few months. We thought he couldn’t add and he easily does algebra and recently asked to learn about cube roots. I am not writing this out of pride for our son. I am telling you this because I don’t think he is the exception, I think he is the rule. In the last year I have seen this over and over again in teens and children who are in life skills classes and who educators and doctors have said are cognitively disabled. When given the opportunity to use RPM or something like it they show us that they have not just been taking it all in, but assimilating it in a typical and functional manner. One day early on our homeschool teachers gave James a vocabulary test. They gave the word “gullible” he spelled “easily fooled." Those examples are endless.
But the most remarkable thing we have learned about James and what I wanted to share in this piece is that despite having suffered in ways unimaginable he (and I think so many of his peers) has great hope for the world and for forgiveness and understanding. It is hard to even put into words what life would be like trapped in your body. Thinking and understanding just like everyone else but not being able to join in a conversation, tell a joke, verbally express love or anger or sadness. To not have friends, have education be limited; the list is long and painful.
But here is a “legend” written by James this week. When I read it my first thought was to put it on Age of Autism because I thought it summarized so much of what this community experiences and it gives us some hope. James said in another conversation that he remains hopeful and I’d like to think we all can. The background is that he is doing Medieval literature in school right now and they have read Beowulf, Sword in the Stone, etc. After discussing (on the letter board) the Sword in the Stone he was given this assignment: (his writing is in Caps)
Why was it so hard for people to believe that Arthur pulled the sword from the stone?
BECAUSE PEOPLE CANNOT BELIEVE THINGS THAT THEY DONT UNDERSTAND.
Create a modern day legend about something that may be beyond the belief of many people.
THERE WAS A BOY WHO SEEMED LIKE HE WAS UNREMARKABLE. NO ONE THOUGHT HE WAS CAPABLE OF MUCH COMPLEXITY. HE HAD EVERYONE FOOLED. NOT ONLY WAS HE SMART, HE WAS MAGICAL. HE WANTED TO BE CONSIDERED SPECIAL WITHOUT HAVING TO RESORT TO USING HIS POWERS TO CONVINCE PEOPLE. HE WAS FRUSTRATED BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE COULD NOT BELIEVE THERE WAS MORE THAN WHAT THEY COULD SEE ON THE SURFACE. ONLY HIS FAMILY BELIEVED HIS TALENTS. HIS MOTHER BELIEVED HE SHOULD USE HIS MAGIC TO OPEN THE EYES OF THE DOUBTERS. THE BOY CAST A FAITH SPELL THAT WIPED ALL THE DOUBT FROM THE EYES OF THE NONBELIEVERS.
SUDDENLY, THEY COULD SEE THE BOY AND OTHERS LIKE HIM FOR WHAT THEY REALLY ARE. THEY WERE SHOCKED TO FIND SO MANY KIDS AND ADULTS THEY HAD REGARDED AS UNREMARKABLE AND EVEN SOMETIMES WORTHLESS. THE PEOPLE WEPT WHEN THEY REALIZED HOW CRUEL THEY HAD BEEN TO THESE SPECIAL PEOPLE. THEY BEGGED FOR FORGIVENESS. SINCE THEY WERE SPECIAL PEOPLE WITH ENORMOUS HEARTS THEY FORGAVE ALL WHO DOUBTED THEM. ALL THE PEOPLE COULD NOW LIVE TOGETHER IN RESPECTFUL HARMONY. THE SPECIAL PEOPLE WERE INVITED TO STUDY AND LEARN WITH THE OTHERS. SOME WERE EVEN INVITED TO TEACH. THE WORLD BECAME A HAPPIER PLACE.
Brooke Potthast lives in Arlington, Virginia ,with her family and is recording much of what James is writing on their blog ReturningJames.com.
The treatment category is sponsored by Lee Silsby, the leader in quality compounded medications for autism.