What happens in an RPM session?
Alex will start working with the student straight away. She will teach an age appropriate topic whilst identifying and working on four goals; learning, motor skills, tolerance and open communication. If you have booked an hour session, a student with more tolerance can have a longer session (i.e. 45-55minutes) with parental feedback at the end. A student who is new to RPM will have two shorter sessions with a break for parental feedback in the middle.
Do you assume that students can already read and write?
The only assumption that is made in RPM is that all students are capable of learning. Alex teaches spelling through lessons which provides a stimulating context to learn in. Different amounts of input are required based on the student's exposure to language and the written word; a teenager may have been exposed to stories and shop signs, so may have more knowledge than a four year old for example. Once a student develops their motor skill they are able to demonstrate if they do have already have a spelling ability.
Do you work with aggressive people?
Yes, RPM Providers work with all students. Alex organises the environment carefully and gives the student more personal space if they are feeling agitated or anxious. She focuses on developing a relationship with the student where they achieve success and will teach subjects to activate the reasoning part of the brain.
Can you just focus on communication with my child?
In RPM we teach the student academics in order to build their motor skills through practising known words and also to develop the student's thinking skills and interests so that they have thoughts to share. Communication becomes very boring and tedious without a topic; sharing interesting information can stimulate and inspire students to share thoughts, opinions and ideas. The communication is therefore much richer and expressive as a result.
Can I use RPM to find out what my child wants/needs?
RPM is not a functional method of communication, there are many other methods designed for that purpose. RPM is an academic method that can lead to expressive and limitless communication. Once a student can point accurately between 26 letters they are able to share their personality through expressing opinions, creating stories and asking questions.
What if this won't work for my child?
Most parents have thought exactly the same at the start of their journey! All students are capable of learning - RPM is tailored to each individual in relation to their learning channels, motor skills and other challenges.
Does my child need to be able to sit at a table?
No, sitting at the table is a tolerance goal which is worked on over time. In the beginning it is important for Alex to build a relationship with the student where they experience success and are engaged in learning. It is easier to work at a table, but many students move around or sit on the floor to do RPM; the most important thing is to get started, and work on the sitting skill over time.
Why is RPM also appropriate for verbal students?
Many people who are verbal repeat information, talk socially or stim on particular words; there is a lack of meaningful and purposeful language. RPM can help these students access the language part of the brain and share their more purposeful and expressive thoughts through pointing. Over time the student can be supported to make their speech more purposeful by linking it to what they are pointing to.
My child can already type on a laptop; why do they need to point on the stencils?
Many students can point to known and practised words on a laptop but are unable to express their own thoughts. Alex helps the student to initially grow their spelling skill on the stencils where there are no favourite or practised words. After a student is fluent in spelling on the laminate alphabet board and is able to communicate, the skills can then be transferred back onto the laptop (or another device) if this is appropriate.
Why are students asked to point with a pencil?
The pencil is a prompt to initiate the movement of pointing. It can also help the student to develop good pointing skills by pushing it through the stencil rather than making a swiping motion.
Do students become prompt dependent?
Prompts are given to help the student initiate responses and build their muscle memory so that they are able to point on a letter board. As the student develops their motor skills many prompts can be taken away easily.
How often should I do sessions?
Initially it is best to have short sessions (5-10minutes) to build your child's tolerance levels and give you chance to reflect on the sessions and develop your own skill; your child can only progress their skill level once you have developed your own skill level in teaching, prompting, building motor skills etc.
If your child attends a school it would be good to work up to one 25-30minute session a day, for people who run home programs they may want to build up to two - three sessions a day, depending on the student's tolerance level. RPM should not feel like a chore/work - it should feel like a conversation.
Please visit the HALO-Soma FAQ's in order to find a more comprehensive list of questions and answers.