Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the questions we are often asked. There are however, hundreds of questions! We would highly recommend taking the time to study Soma's HALO website - particularly the FAQ section.

Please click on the question to display the answer.

My child will not let me read them a story.

This is very common. You will need to gradually build up your child’s tolerance to listening to your voice –starting with 5 minutes and building up – Soma calls this desensitization. Here a mum who has been doing RPM for 6 months explains her joy at being able to read her son a bedtime story.

“I’m really happy tonight x for the first time since Ben was a toddler he has let me read to him at bedtime He even picked the books! A space one and jack the giant killer x Since we started RPM he’s been getting more and more interested in books again and letting me read to him more and more xxx very happy mum xxx”

My child is unable to get an object i ask for eg i ask him to bring me a cup and he brings me a plate.

This is motor control/body co-ordination issue that is mistaken for an intelligence and understanding issue. Our children are now telling us about the frustration of being locked in a body that does not co-operate. Imagine. You want to reach out and pick up your coffee cup. Each time you do you pick up the phone next to it. No matter how hard you try your body simply won’t do what you mind is telling it. This is how some of our children feel every minute of the day. Our children are telling us now how they know what objects are and understand requests but they cannot always get their body to do it. RPM is not just about learning theoretical information – it is also about teaching our children how to make purposeful movements. This starts with the movement of being able to point to the specific letter they want on a letterboard and then progresses to other body movements eg -being able to pick up an object, catch a ball, move their body in a particular way etc. Obviously the severity of the motor issues will determine how quickly this control can be achieved, but with RPM everyone can improve and move towards purposeful movements.

Can I use symbols instead of the letterboard/words?

PECS or other visual communication methods are being used by many people to overcome frustrations caused by not being able to get what they want when they want it. However these methods are limited in their ability to foster full communication as they are reliant on the person being able to find the appropriate symbol. RPM does not have these limitation as it uses the full alphabet to enable full expression/communication. It is also interesting to note that we are seeing lots of children who are overwhelmed by too much visual input – their dominant learning channel is auditory – so in these cases the symbols etc may not be helping and may even be distracting. .

How many sessions should I start off with and how long should they be?

Initially you would start off with short sessions 5-30minutes maximum. RPM is not designed to be an ‘all day’ event. Two sessions a day is ideal and as you are able to desensitise your child and increase their tolerance for sitting you can increase the length of your child’s session. However to begin with you can keep sessions short and at an age appropriate level! They key here is not really the length but that you ensure your child receives your input regularly as this will speed up the desensitisation process and then your child will be able to begin to demonstrate their intelligence.

My child is really aggressive and hits out?

Many children have challenging behaviours and the aggression/lashing out is usually an impulsive action often caused by the anxiety of being in a new situation. It does not mean that the child does not want to learn. It is important that the child does not feel pressured to ‘perform’ so we stress that in the initial stages we are just ‘practising’and we help to reduce the anxiety by ensuring the child is successful. There are strategies you can use to protect yourself in these situations eg to stay standing while doing sessions so you can move quickly out of the way, to use the table/chair as an obstacle between you and to gradually build up the length of the sessions.

My child won’t sit at a table?

Many of our students have difficulty confining themselves in one place. Indeed Christopher has told us how he has to move to allow his thoughts to come out. Each RPM session has 4 goals and one of those is tolerance. Over time you increase the time spent at the table and sitting down. In the beginning however, students may need, especially during the desensitisation process, to move around much more and this is no reason to not do RPM! Soma herself follows students and has worked under tables, walking around and even through a car window!

What equipment do i need to start off?

You do not need any expensive equipment to start, apart from pencils and paper! Of course we do recommend that you buy and study Soma’s books as soon as possible. There is lots of free information available to you. Please visit www.halo-soma.org and  our parent/teacher support facebook page – Unlocking Voices – Using RPM. The only other expense will be for the stencils and letterboard – but remember that Soma started just by writing the alphabet for Tito on paper.

My child makes noises and doesn’t listen when I talk?

Often our children appear not to be listening and make so much noise that you cannot see how they could possibly be hearing anything else or taking anything in. Christopher also makes noises and often turns away, doesn’t appear to be engaged etc. At first we thought he wouldn’t be able to take in what we were saying – but then we just carried on and found he was able to answer all of the questions about the topic! We can’t judge our children by what works for us.

My child doesn’t seem aware of what is going around him?

There is a common misconception that if a person is not attending and seemingly oblivious to his or her surroundings that they are incapable of learning or understanding. Reading Soma’s books will help you understand more about this – our children are now telling us that when no-one thought anything was going on they were absorbing everything around them . It is crucial that we do not make assumptions. As Christopher has said ‘ without a doubt everyone can learn’.