The Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) was developed by Soma Mukhopadhyay whose own son, Tito, was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
Tito is now 27 years old and, although he is severely autistic, is able to express his thoughts by independently typing on a laptop. He is also a renowned author and gifted poet. He is not a genius or a 'one-off' or a savant. All of his skills have been taught by Soma using RPM and she continues to work with Tito each day.
We are now using the Rapid Prompting Method to teach independent pointing and typing skills to many students, with all 'degrees' of autism - unlocking their voices and empowering them to express their thoughts, reasonings and learning.
Even if people are verbal it does not mean that they are able to fully communicate or express their feelings or thoughts or understanding. Often these people get stuck at being able to make basic requests of wants/needs. RPM can help to expand their expressive communication.
RPM is also now being used to help people with cerebral palsy.
Here is a clip of Tito talking to us at the UK Unlocking Voices Soma Workshop in July 2014.
RPM is skill building
RPM is all about building the skill of planned, purposeful and independent movement to enable the student to make deliberate choices.
It begins with two hand written choices and works upto 26 - i.e. the letters of the alphabet. It is a teaching method using age appropriate educational topics to stimulate and engage the student. The way the topics are presented recognises that each student is unique - with unique sensory challenges/preferences , behaviours and self-stimulatory behaviours - so the teacher adapts to present the topic in the most effective way for each child.
Autistic people tend to have altered/mixed up sensory channels - they may not see, hear, feel things in the same way that we do and may have great difficulty keeping still. In RPM we identify the students open learning channels and modify teaching methods accordingly. It is interesting that most people seem to think that autistic people are mostly visual learners - we are finding that this is not the case - many are very selective about what they choose to look at (eg certain dvds) and actually have a dominant auditory learning channel.
The length of time taken to master the skills varies greatly from student to student. Sue's son, Christopher, has been using RPM since 2011 - he is now using a laminated full alphabet letterboard and we are working on his keyboard skills. Other students have made very rapid progress - particularly when they do not have motor planning challenges.
This is a short documentary filmed about 10 years ago. Here they address the scepticism that is of course associated with anything in life and the idea that Tito, or Christopher, are 'one offs'. Note how they use the word tenacity - it requires your determination, dedication and most importantly belief.