Maureen, Mum to Chris, aged 16
I would just like to say how truly proud we are of our son, Christopher. We started out with our RPM journey 18 months ago and could never have imagined the road this journey would lead us. Our son is now able to communicate his thoughts and feelings in a very mature way and for us to get an insight into how he feels and perceives his own life and the world around him is just wonderful. We have nowhere near completed our journey and the question is “really will we ever”? because, like the normal population, Christopher is learning all the time. RPM is a revelation and the ‘Unlocking Voices’ team have been a massive godsend. With their support, expertise and help we have been able to implement this method of teaching to enhance Christopher’s learning and communication.
Rachel, mum to Bobi , aged 17
The service I and my son Bobi received on attending a weekend session with Sue and her team was outstanding. It was very fluid but done in a relaxing manner. Bobi was really at ease and comfortable with all the girls from the off and did some great work, talking openly on some difficult subjects (puberty) as well as an informative lesson .
As a mom I also got help on how to relax and work with my son. I only wished the team was closer to me in London….we would be attending daily
Thanks to Sue and her wonderful team
Sarah, mum to Ben
I found Sue, Penny and Alex warm and welcoming when we visited them for a Saturday workshop. Ben is very nervous in new situations but within a few minutes he was sitting with Sue making choices. It was great to get some good advice and see new techniques I could use to help Ben. Having a video of the session really helped too as I could look back and see how they were positioned and even spot mistakes I was making. I will definitely be booking more sessions in the future and am very grateful for all their help.
Aneta, mum to Thomas
The team were extremely professional, experienced and caring. The workshop was tailored to our son’s needs and ability and the team’s non-judgemental attitude allowed Thomas to feel completely at ease, which meant he was willing to participate and really enjoyed the experience. We highly recommend “Unlocking Voices” for anybody interested in using RPM with their child. They combine professionalism, hard work and expertise in the field and really get the results! We are really looking forward to our next workshop.
Karren, mum to Finn
Dr Prosenjit Giri & Dr Anuradha Giri, Mum & Dad to Arghojit Giri (Ron)
After years of despair and frustration with a non-verbal autistic son it was a God’s grace that we met Soma (Mukhopadhyay) on 17 March 2012 and had the training in Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). It was an instant eye opener – a boy whom the literate and educated society discarded as a learning disabled and idiot, suddenly became a beacon of hope. This is the first time we understood that Ron is an intelligent little boy with so much knowledge and bubbling energy who was dying to express himself to us and to the society. Thanks to Soma for giving us our little angel.
The last couple of years have been an amazing and wonderful journey. We now speak with him, teach him and even play with him through RPM. He has already finished Key Stage 1 syllabus; successfully answered examination papers; and started Key Stage 2. He has even shown his skills to Paediatricians, Educational Psychologists and Speech Therapists. He is much calmer now as he is able to express himself and proudly show us what he can do. He even kisses his stencil/letter board which has given him so much freedom and hope of a life.
With kind support of Sue and her team at Unlocking Voices we identified a number of themes which we could cultivate to unravel his talent to its maximum. We strongly recommend Rapid Prompting Method.
Stacey, Mum to Elliot, aged 13.
My son is 13 and was diagnosed with autism at 2 years. He is a clever boy but due to limited speech, he finds it frustrating that he cannot be understood at times. Watching his first RPM session was amazing, he answered questions I had no idea he knew. I find it difficult at times to do regular sessions, but even 10 minutes here and there are all very useful. If you are contemplating doing RPM, I would recommend you give it a try. You have nothing to lose and will probably be pleasantly surprised as I am.
Jan 14: Kirsty, Mum to Charlie
We first began trying RPM with Charlie back in July 2013 after attending one day of Soma’s visit to Sutton Coldfield. It was hard to imagine Charlie sitting for above a few minutes to both listen answer the questions. Charlie had sat for short periods of time in the past to do table top activities which involved turn taking with an adult using simple cause and effect games, e.g a spinning top or posting type activities. He had never been required to listen and respond in this way. Charlie has a diagnosis of Atypical Regressive Autism with Severe Learning Difficulties, also he has severe Sensory processing disorder and widespread dyspraxia. Charlie has a lot of gross motor isms which he uses to take care of his body in order to keep it in a modulated place. The Sensory Integration Therapy has helped with this enormously over the past four years and Charlie has a full sensory diet as well as a H.A.N.D.L.E program.
We managed to get Charlie to sit for longer and longer periods by a process of trial and error however there were/are two main components, the first being more practical, we do not attempt RPM without doing some H.A.N.D.L.E and Sensory Integration activities beforehand. An example is Charlie does a Sensory Motor Planning circuit before any work sat at the table to help him achieve a calm-alert state and be able to feel his body. We then do either hug and tug or buzz snap on his fingers prior to handing him the pencil for his RPM work so that hopefully he can now feel his fingers. We have then experimented with trying to find topics that motivate and engage him- this has been and remains the biggest challenge. We have tried to increase our speed as in fairness at the beginning we were practising a less heard of method affectionately termed ‘The Slow Prompting Method’. I do not recommend it! So in some respects it has been about us as the facilitators stepping up to the challenge also.
The second component has proved harder for some people in the team but it has been about our beliefs. Something we were familiar with having to keep addressing as part of reflecting on Charlie’s Son-Rise Program. It’s important to hold the belief that your child is capable of answering these questions and rapidly, coupled with a general belief in their cognition and intellect. Nowadays there are clear signs to me that Charlie’s intellect is intact, RPM has really confirmed that to me and as Christopher Finnes himself has expressed, it’s vital that our children’s skills, understanding and abilities are fully acknowledged. I know of no other method that places our non-verbal children with this clear way of demonstrating to us just how smart they are! In doing so the method is also deeply respectful of the child and places no emphasis on them proving themselves, the proof I reckon is quite literally in the pudding!
My initial contact with Christopher and his mum was when Sue brought him to my practice for help with sensory sensitivities and sensory seeking aspects of his behaviour. This was in February 2009. I worked with Christopher delivering individual sensory integration therapy and with his mum and home tutors to help support his learning through use of sensory strategies for self-regulation. I always felt that Christopher was teaching me about his autism and his mum’s dedication to finding ways to increase his life opportunities continues to gain my respect and to make me humble.
At one appointment with me, Sue told me what Christopher had told his new tutor about his sessions with me. This tutor had not met me, and did not know anything about my work with him. He said, using RPM, that ‘Mary helps me get a deep understanding of my deep self’ and considering the proprioceptive seeking activities and the resultant calm he achieved this was an accurate description of what he got from my sessions with him. From that day I have followed his progress and witnessed his mum’s determination to promote and develop RPM with her son but also with other autistic youngsters.
So, when Sue said Soma was coming over to run workshops for RPM users and I could come along to observe I jumped at the chance. I watched these youngsters with autism get their words out and both show an understanding of the world and capacity to learn but also be able to reflect on their experience of autism.
To me, the philosophy of RPM draws on the fundamental assumption that an autistic person is a person. There is a non-judgemental positive regard and respect of the struggles faced by these individuals to understand their world and for the world to make an effort to understand them.
Over the 4 days of the workshop I saw again and again that RPM offers an opportunity for the user to demonstrate their intellectual interests, their learning ability and to self-reflect. We have to keep pace with this development and re-train our perceptions to disregard the ‘what you see is what you get’ notion when we don’t see the behaviours associated with intellectual capacity and typical learning behaviours. I found myself being shocked by my own prejudice when I doubted what I saw – when I saw a youngster come out with a profound comment because I had ‘forgotten’ that in an autistic person the brain and body does not work as a unified whole and the outward signs of taking notice or thinking are often diminished or even absent. And yet, when I watch a video of Stephen Hawking and hear his words I do not find myself shocked at all. We need to afford people with autism the same opportunity to get their words out and to speak. RPM is a way that is trying to do just that.
I feel we have an obligation to take this approach seriously, support it, let it develop and find ways to measure its effectiveness.