HALO - Helping Autism through Learning and Outreach HALO - Helping Autism through Learning and Outreach
HALO - Helping Autism through Learning and Outreach HALO - Helping Autism through Learning and Outreach
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About Us - Testimonials and Success Stories

Soma and Tito have graciously allowed their lives to be exposed so that others may learn from their successes and challenges. HALO encourages parents using RPM to share student progressions so that others may better understand the RPM learning process, and so that others may know about the many students who have made significant gains using Soma's RPM.

"I think it's almost certain that this method can be used on many autistic children. In fact, the initial indication from these studies is that it might apply to the substantial majority of these children (with autism)."
Dr. Mike Merzenich
Neuroscientist, UCSF

10 / 22 / 2004
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"Dear Ms. Lange
I wanted to share my experience I had observing Soma work with my son and other children. As you are aware, I organized an instructional workshop to bring Soma to the Chicago area to work with my son and many other children over a two-day period. This was truly a life-changing event in our lives and based on the feedback I received from the other parents, it changed their life, too. During the entire trip, Soma was gracious and respectful of both the parents and children. I was privileged to be in the room and observe Soma working with all of the children. She treated each child with dignity, respect and a strong confidence in their abilities. Watching her work with each child was truly amazing. She was able to quickly access each child's learning channels and present information to them in a way that they could learn. She was patient, kind and understanding. She was very adaptive, ignored their behaviors and continued to work with the children through out the sessions. I watched as some of the children would push, bite, pinch, punch and kick at Soma, her response was always to redirect the child with a firm and understanding voice. She never became angry, irritated or physical. Her voice was calm but assertive throughout all sessions. The children's responses were outstanding. All the children were beaming with confidence. I believe every parent left the workshop with excitement and the revelation that their child learned and is capable of far greater education then previously thought possible.

As a result of the instructional sessions with Soma, My wife and I have changed the way we communicate with our son. Prior to the experience with Soma, we were not always confident on his abilities to learn. I believe that many of the children with autism have a low self-esteem because they have failed so many times and many people treat them differently because of they do not understand autism. Soma is able to communicate and demonstrate to the child, his or her parents, friends, family, and other professionals that every child can learn and you must present the information in a manner that allows this process to occur. Soma's demonstration of the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) was a life-changing event for everyone involved. I cannot thank Soma and HALO for giving us the fantastic opportunity. Thank You."
Keith Wozniak ( Justin 9 )
parent
Chicago, IL USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"The first time I saw Tito on stage at a conference, it was as if the beautiful mind of the person with autism opened up like a flower in front of me. I realized, the only thing we know for sure about what's going on inside our kids' heads is that we don't know anything. All this dummying down and talking in monosyllables is missing the point. Soma has taught us to assume intelligence from the person with autism, and she has shown us an innovative way to access it. The result of Soma's work in the life of my son, Woody, is no less miraculous than Tito's accomplishments. I see Woody differently. I talk to him differently. I expect more of him and he rises to every challenge. The impact extends beyond our family. I am able to help others see how smart he is, and that he understands what's going on. Our assumptions - that someone who rocks, flaps or stims is mentally out to lunch - are collectively shattered. We are able to glimpse the person within. Woody has blossomed as he has felt understood. He is present in our world and demonstrates a desire to communicate. His life and our lives together have been immeasurably improved, and I can finally imagine a fulfilling future for my son. Soma's Rapid Prompting Method has the power to revolutionize how we teach and communicate with our friends with autism. I am privileged to be a small part of this movement."
Mary Brown ( Woody 7 )
parent
HALO Advisory Committee
Sierra Madre, CA USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"I first saw Soma and Tito when I attended a conference in Pasadena, CA in the Spring of 2002, and then I observed Soma working at a school in Los Angeles. It was the first time I had ever seen six severely autistic children sitting quietly for a half hour at a time, listening and responding while they were being taught an academic lesson. Soma was able to teach them. I was impressed by her method, which made sense as it took into consideration the different challenges these students face, making it difficult for them to respond. What impressed me -- as well as her teaching method-- was the expectations she had for each student. Having tried different well-known strategies with my son with limited success, and believing as Soma did in the potential of each student, I decided to try RPM with Jeremy at home.
Soma started teaching Jeremy on an intermittent basis in August 2003. Now, he is able to show that he is understanding what he is being taught, and has an alternative system of communication for what he can't verbally tell us. This is very important for Jeremy as a person, for the school staff as his educators, and for us as a family."
Chantal Sicile-Kira ( Jeremy 16 )
parent
Author of Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide, www.chantalsicile-kira.com
San Diego, CA USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"My daughter has been working with Soma now for a little over a year now. I owe a very deep gratitude to Soma. She gave my daughter back to me. Morgan is now nine-years-old and totally non-verbal. Dozens of doctors and professionals told me she was autistic and also severely mentally retarded, and needed custodial care the rest of her life. Soma changed all of this. Soma showed me that Morgan is far from mentally retarded, and in fact, is quite bright, with an excellent memory. Soma has taught Morgan how to communicate on a spell board. Morgan has great difficulty with motor planning, so it is still a work in progress. Morgan didn't know how to point when we first met Soma. Now Morgan points (or sometimes swipes closely) to letters on the spell board. I cannot thank Soma enough for all she has done for me and Morgan. Even though some of the children are quite abusive to Soma (who always seems to have bruises and bite marks on her arms), she won't let the behaviors of the children get in her way. She understands, and she continues to work with them. If you have any questions about our experience with Soma, please feel free to contact me directly. Once again, I have the deepest gratitude and appreciation for all Soma has done for our family, especially Morgan. We have a daughter with a voice now. Thank you."
Stacy Primack ( Morgan 9 )
parent
Los Angeles, CA USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"Rohit was first seen by Soma on June of 2004 and the kind of response Soma initiated in him surprised us. I had never thought that he was capable of answering these questions. Soma put to rest our disbelief in Rohit's academic potential. As the sessions progressed, he continued to surprise us with more answers and quickly went from circling answers to pointing. He started answering questions on a wide range of subjects including English grammar, math, reading, etc. At the same time, we started asking him questions related to our family, life, current events, etc. He not only named our family members, but was also aware of current events like who is the president of U.S., his favorite actor, what he wants to be when he grows up etc. I can vouch that very little could have been achieved if we had not pursued RPM. I have lots of respect for Soma and her dedication to these children. Who would devote this much of energy and time? And she is doing this to uplift these children. I cannot find words to thank her for this venture. Thank you."
Vidya & Jayanthi Dixit ( Rohit 8 )
parents
Los Angeles, CA USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"Soma's work with my 11-year-old son Simon for three years has transformed his life and mine. Simon may have been one of her toughest students, but she persevered through his every stage. He still has many behaviors, many of which he claims not to be able to help. (He will be spelling 'sorry' and do it again before he is done!) But Soma has created a new learning context for our kids who would otherwise be forever underestimated and misunderstood."
Elizabeth Freed
parent
Los Angeles, CA USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"RPM has made a major impact on our family. We act toward our son in a whole different way. I think it was important to get an initial evaluation done by Soma so that we know where to start."
Jan Wolfley
parent
Sacramento
10 / 21 / 2004
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Dear HALO,

Soma and HALO have made an incredible difference in Will's life and our whole family's. I could go on and on about these changes, but I think you know as a parent what those are - and they are huge. The academic changes and growth are so evident, but the impact that Soma and HALO have had on Will's view of himself is by far the most important. Thank you so much for giving us a great year and for giving us the miracle of the beginning of getting to know our son.

A few weeks ago Will composed a really neat testimony about how his life has changed this year.

4-26-06

"Now and Then"

I am so pleased with myself this year. I have really made great progress. I have many friends now. I believe that I am not retarded. Last year was a big turning point in my life. Today I feel I am a different person. I believe in my own reasons to decide things. I can understand others' views too. I care for everyone better. Previously I felt so confused. Today I can feel much better and more confident."

- Will S.

Beyond grateful,
Karin Schuetze
Karin Schuetze ( Will 9 )
Austin, TX
5 / 20 / 2006
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"I am a special education teacher of 10 years who attended a summer camp with one of my students. We have incorporated RPM into his daily schedule, and this week, I started training basic RPM to my aides -- they are wowed by the results! I have never learned anything for my students that I have felt so encouraged about. Thank you HALO and Soma!"
Amanda Bellmeyer
teacher
Alabama
10 / 21 / 2004
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"Soma has changed my son's life. He is six years old, and has autism. He does not have the ability to speak words. He does not have the ability to use sign language. He has been communicating only by grabbing my hand and dragging me places he wants to go, or by sitting down when he doesn't want to go somewhere, or by crying and laughing to express his displeasure and pleasure. We went to California to work with Soma and to learn Rapid Prompting. He now is able to communicate! I know now that he is not mentally retarded, which I secretly feared all of these years. He has learned the alphabet, numbers up to 100, and all of the things that a Kindergartener should know. He knows about opposites and about rhyming. He can count by 5s and 10s. He is learning about even and odd numbers in his 1st Grade class, and he was able to let me know that he understands this concept as well. Can you imagine being locked inside a body that won't let you communicate? I can't imagine how frustrating this must have been for my son. Now, he can let me know favorite toy, his favorite food, his favorite color, and why he sometimes hits his brother. Soma has opened this door for my son, and he is so much happier as a result. The way that I interact with my son has also improved. I expect more from him, and he rises to my expectations. Soma worked patiently with my son, who wanted to crawl under the table, over the table and onto the table. She patiently redirected him again and again, encouraging him, and teasing him to learn how to communicate. She joked with him, and kept a steady flow of encouragement and support going the whole time. He had a cold while we were there, and he sneezed on her, and coughed on her, and she just wiped his nose and went on working. She exhibited nothing but patience and love for this child who she had just met. If anyone has anything negative to say about Soma, they must not have met her. She is to be worshiped."
Linda Cowen ( Lindsey 6 )
parent
Jonesboro, GA USA
10 / 21 / 2004
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"My daughter, Claire, attended camp with Soma in July, and life is not the same since. So much has opened for Claire (and me), and it's nothing short of miraculous."
Elizabeth Sileo
parent
Kansas
10 / 21 / 2004
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In November 2004, I painfully watched a special ed teacher "help" James count out 9 objects, hand-over-hand. She was apologetic and suggested a program that was simple and functional since "academics caused James to tantrum". Then we had 8, 30-minute sessions with Soma and nothing has been the same since. My husband and I were stunned by what he was able to do and understand in those sessions.

I started home-schooling James in February 2005. He started with 2 choices and the 1st and 2nd grade curriculum. Before long he was using the letter board for one word answers and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade standards came and went. I struggled to get to a place where I could actually teach him something. Everyday I probed his reading comprehension level, ability to spell, and understanding of math and science.

Recently he was tested with middle school level tests for reading and math. In the fall, James will be starting 6th grade in a typical classroom except for math-he's going to take algebra with the eighth graders. He is reading at a 6.5 level and his vocabulary was scored at 12th grade. James explains the difference-"Back in elementary school all the kids had autism. They didn't talk or have friends. I am nervous about what the children will think or say to me next year. I am different in some ways but not in others. I like to ride horses. I like Lizzy McGuire. I like to come to school and see my friends. But I am different because I use a letterboard to talk. I am really good at math and I have a big vocabulary. Sometimes my hands hurt, and I am not very good with them."

James can now express himself-his frustrations can be addressed and his joys and goals can be shared.

And for the first time in 11 years, my son has told me "I love you". I am so thankful to Soma, Tito and all the helpful people at HALO. You have touched so many lives through helping one little boy. James now has a voice and we delight daily in discovering his unique personality.
Patricia Stephens (7-1-05) ( James 11 )
Mother
CA USA
12 / 5 / 2006
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When my son was diagnosed with severe autism and retardation at the age of two, we were warned against harboring false hopes. We were told that our child's best case scenario would be life in a group home, and a simple, repetitive job in a sheltered workshop.

That night, I promised my son that I'd scour the ends of the earth for any way that might help him live a full, happy life. It's been a long, hard battle. We almost went down for the count.

After my son outgrew what PECS could help him say, we entered a horrifying regression that I feared David would never recover from. Just three months ago, I sat in an IEP meeting listening to my son's school district state that David's IQ score was 37. I watched five women with master's degrees and PhD's in education and behavior analysis pat themselves on the back when they revealed that our son had learned to sequence numbers from 1 to 10 and to sequence his alphabet, and had decreased his aggressions to less than 60 a day, and his self abuses to less than 100.

I hated to tell them that David had been doing this since he was three. I knew they wouldn't believe me when I told them that just that morning, David and I had done a geology lesson and that David had aced the test on the material shortly after. I also reminded them that during that forty-minute session, my son had not acted out once. Mentions were made that I must be inadvertently giving my child the answers. "Hope does strange things to a family".

When I first read Tito's story in "The Mind Tree", I feared that my precious, first-born son was forever lost to us. My 10-year old son had been placed by his school district in an intensive, behaviorally-focused group home and ABA day school. Our son's growing frustration with his inability to communicate had escalated to the point where his explosive rages endangered him, his siblings, and other students.

For most families, putting their child in a protective placement is acknowledging the end of hope. Even family members told me it was time to walk away from David for the sake of my sanity, and the welfare of my other children, who also have autism, but have fared much better.

But something in me could not---would not----give up on my son, in spite of the dire predictions for his dismal future. While David was away from us, we used the time to research methods that might bring him back home.

That research led me to Tito. Tito's words led David to RPM.

At first, David's extreme behaviors and runaway behaviors made travelling to Austin to see Soma seem impossible. So I purchased the DVD and CD lectures, gritted my teeth, went and picked up my son for a weekend and got to work.

By the time Sunday morning came, we'd worked through David's rage over being asked to do something so new. By Sunday evening it was very clear to me that my son could learn, and wanted to learn. Over the next weeks, the shrieking, wild child I'd always known introduced his true self to me, a 10-year-old boy with opinions and interests.

My husband and I pulled our son from his group home a month later, as his behavior at home had greatly improved. David lives at home full-time now. Our days together grow increasingly peaceful. Our son's confidence has grown a hundred fold. He has learned to swim, learned to paint, learned to make amazing beaded gemstone jewelry which will soon be placed in one of Winter Park's finest artisan's galleries. His eye for color and the elements of design is striking.

As I write these words, I am sitting in a hotel room in Austin, and my eyes are swollen from thankful tears. Yesterday, my son spent his first day with Soma at the HALO clinc. Even after months of moving towards educating my son through RPM, I could have been scraped off of the floor with a spatula as I watched Soma prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that my son is completely capable of learning grade level material.

And the rest, as they say, will soon be history. Meet my son, David. He is eleven years old. He's quite the lady's man. He likes dragons and knights, trains and clocks, opera and jewelry making. He owes his suddenly full, abundant life to Tito, and to Soma who refused to buy into the myth that autism and retardation are inseparable.
Traci Yates Poff (11-29-05) ( David 11 )
Mother
FL USA
12 / 5 / 2006
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To say that our recent visit to see Soma was life-changing, probably
wouldn't capture just what it meant to our family. During the 4-day
camp we saw our son's brilliance-ability to learn, attend, and be happy
in his success. You could see it in his eyes- "they get me-finally!"
We had approached this trip with a sense of cautious optimism. (Maybe
he wouldn't be the type of learner that benefits from RPM.) Well,
within the first few minutes we knew, he was indeed. He was not the
visual learner we had thought. He really enjoyed language and the
auditory aspects of learning. He just hadn't been able to express it
previously. We watched as he demonstrated things beyond our
hopes-adding, receptive identification of the alphabet, sesaons, etc.

Our sincere thanks goes out to Soma, for her faithful pursuit in
helping our son. We left Austin with complete optimism for the future,
and our family's future. It will be hard work, but worthwhile. For
the first time, we are truly excited about his learning.

Thanks to Soma, Linda and Tonya for making HALO possible. We'll be
back soon!
Lynne Rhea (4-15-05) ( Andrew 7 )
Mother
VA USA
12 / 5 / 2006
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Excerpt of a presentation spelled out by Sydney about being autistic and learning to communicate through Soma's teaching:

I remember being teased at school by boys when I was 7 or 8 years old.
I wanted to scream at them because I can't help being autistic.

Before, I could block out all the watching people. But now, I don't even want to. I want to listen to what they have to say. I absolutely love to be with boys and girls once in a while. But, they can be mean and closed-minded.

My life began when I started being able to communicate. Until then, I was like a lonely little, and sometimes lazy little, girl. I didn't want to work because I actually saw no point because it dind't help me to communicate. Living like that was only lonely.

But, Soma came along and changed my life. She actually lifted poor little me out of darkness and into happiness.

Soma taught Mom how to communicate with me and Mom and we have been talking ever since. Now I can choose my own clothes, make my own decisions, and make lovely friends out of people.

Now that I can let people know my thoughts, I can actually plan dreams.
I hope to be a writer one day. Obviously, I am going to have to work at it. But, it will be a labor you can only dream of. I am actually looking forward to beginning.

I want everybody to know the truth about how people feel, particularly about those "autism" labels. My label of "autism" is only a word. It does not tell you anything about who I am. In that respect, it is meaningless. It will not tell you anything about what I CAN do. I only want people to know what I am capable of doing instead of what I can't.
Sydney E ( Sydney 12 )
Student
CA USA
12 / 5 / 2006
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Like many others, my son Jacob is non-verbal. Many things have been tried to no avail. (Ex: pecs, sign language, etc.) We knew he was absorbing things, but we didn't know how to get it out! His teacher once said "I wish I could just crawl into his head for one week and then come back out".

All of the school tests ranked him at the level of a 18-24 month-old-child.

Learning about Halo, setting up a camp, and coming to Austin was the best thing-besides the day he was born-that has happened to us. We went to Austin thinking we had a 2-year-old, and left with a 6- year-old!

The happiness in his eyes, and the tears of joy in ours, beams to everyone we see! The staff at Halo were absolutely wonderful, and Soma was magnificent! We always knew Jacob was a very intelligent little boy, we could see it in his eyes! Soma allowed us to access his intelligence.
Candi Oesterling ( Jacob 6 )
Mother
MO USA
12 / 5 / 2006
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The world opened it's doors to my son less than one year ago today.For years we lived under the veil of little to no communication with my autistic son.During his 1st session with Soma,she "unveiled" what I always felt in my heart and knew in my mind. We knew he was smart but had no idea just how smart! He likes all subjects and writes stories with amazing creativity. For a child that never received prior exposure to academics this was quite a discovery!

What I've learned in such a short time is that RPM is truly a unique method that addresses not only what to teach but how to elicit independent communication from the student during that process.The opportunity to have Soma work 1:1 with my child was an incredible experience.It's also wonderful that Soma also provides the opportunity for parents,as well as professionals, to attend RPM training as well. As a member of HALO,it's also been quite beneficial having the "Forum" where parents can come together in support and encouragement of each other too!

Endless gratitude,
Stacey Lewis ( Cameron 10 )
mom
Chino Hills, CA USA
10 / 6 / 2007
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Soma's RPM gave us the only key to understanding our son (Andrew 15) and the way in which he learns. RPM has completely changed our lives and our mindset about what our son and others like him are capable of when given the opportunity to be heard, understood, respected and educated.
We are truly grateful for having connected with Soma and Halo. Soma has our deepest respect for reaching out to help so many children and their families with this method and with her sincere dedication to her work.
Chris and Martin Chenoweth ( Andrew 15 )
Parents
Grand Junction, CO USA
3 / 5 / 2011
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