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Learning RPM - Frequent Questions

The length and detail of our FAQ is a reflection of the hundreds of inquiries HALO and Soma receive. For ease of use, questions and answers are divided under 6 main categories:

  1. UNDERSTANDING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD
  2. USING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD
  3. LEARNING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD
  4. ASSESSING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD
  5. SEEING SOMA
  6. ABOUT HALO and SOMA

"TOP 10" Frequent Questions

UNDERSTANDING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD

What is Rapid Prompting™ Method?
RPM uses a "Teach-Ask" paradigm for eliciting responses through intensive verbal, auditory, visual and/or tactile prompts. RPM presumes competence to increase students' interest, confidence and self-esteem. Prompting competes with each student's self-stimulatory behavior, and is designed to help students initiate a response. Student responses evolve from picking up answers, to pointing, to typing and writing which reveals students' comprehension, academic abilities and eventually, conversational skills. RPM is a low-tech approach in that is requires only an instructor, student, paper and pencil. But the science behind how and why it works for some individuals is much more complex.

For most people, listening to information, understanding it, preparing a response and utilizing the necessary muscles to communicate that response is a subconscious, reflexive process. But for someone with severe autism, this same process can be a convoluted task. We know from what Tito (Soma's son and published author) and others with autism have communicated that it is extremely difficult to process the sensory information with which they easily become overloaded. Thus, to focus on hearing and seeing, to formulate an appropriate response, and then to complete the motor planning necessary to give that response requires tremendous effort and initiative. Thanks to scientists and people with autism who have participated in research, we are beginning to understand the brain functions of a person with autism, how all the different areas work (or don't work) together and how other parts of the brain can be trained to provide support for the parts that are not working properly.

In the Rapid Prompting Method, the teacher (Soma) matches her pace to the student's speed of self-stimulatory behavior, while continually speaking and requesting student responses, in order to keep the student on task and focused on the lesson at hand. In addition, Soma adjusts subject matter to stimulate the desired side of the brain. Her teaching style is respectful and conversational, as she speaks to her students with the confidence that they are capable of learning and responding to answer her questions.

In the beginning, Soma begins a lesson with stating a few sentences on a subject and she asks a question based on what she has just said. Soma writes two possible answers on separate pieces of paper, taps the choices while reading and spelling them aloud and then encourages the student to pick up the correct answer. Working with hundreds of students, Soma has identified different types of learners, and she adapts her teaching to each one accordingly. For example, auditory learners may not directly look at or read the answers. They rely instead on Soma's tapping to "hear" the position of the correct answer.

Based on the student's skills, Soma moves quickly from having the student choose from two choices to three or more, from picking up pieces of paper to having the student point to the answer, and then to pointing to letters to spell the answer. Because shifting the arm side to side is easier than lifting it up and down, Soma's students first learn to make choices from a horizontal field, and they progress to choices presented vertically.

Although future research is anticipated, neuroscientists such as Dr. Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California San Francisco and a researcher at the W. M. Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, have affirmed that Soma's teaching method will benefit many of the children and adults with autism who struggle daily to learn, function and communicate in traditional academic settings.
 
What is your opinion of other techniques such as PECS, sign language, ABA, Floortime, TEACCH, Facilitated Communication, etc?
RPM is distinct from these other methods as it is academic teaching based upon how the brain works. The aim is to bring the student to maximum learning through the open learning channel.

RPM is the most direct and unlimited path to learning and communicating.
 
What type of students benefit from RPM?
Soma first taught her son Tito, who was nonverbal, and she has expanded and adapted her approach to many different types of learners. Her 600+ clients have ranged in age from 2 to 50.

Pronounced results have been with nonverbal students. The assumption about nonverbal persons often is that, because they lack speech, they are severely cognitively impaired. Soma's teaching has demonstrated that, although nonverbal students lack communicative skills, they still have tremendous potential for learning.

Although Soma's primary focus has been nonverbal students, she works also with verbal students to overcome echolalia, develop reasoning skills, and to improve their auditory learning. Many verbal students have been able to expand their expressive language by learning to spell their responses, and then learning to speak the appropriate response at the right time.

Helping different types of learners begins by identifying in individuals how and which of the senses dominate.

For example, in perception testing where lights are flashed on a computer screen at the same time as a series of beeps is issued, most people can sense the beep and the light at the same time. However, Tito cannot see the light on a computer screen unless it appears a full three seconds after the beeps. He explains that he can only use one sense at a time, and he tends to use his ears.

Tito's experience is in marked contrast to Dr Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University who holds a doctorate in animal science and has autism. Dr. Grandin explains that she thinks totally in pictures, that thinking in language and words is incomprehensible to her, and that she has difficulty with her ultra sensitive hearing because she cannot tune out unwanted noise the way most of us can.

Verbal or nonverbal, "low functioning" or high functioning", Soma adapts her RPM to each student's open learning channel. Because the method is focused on teaching and learning, and, it is individualized for each student, RPM is effective for most any student.
 
Is RPM derived from ABA?
No.

RPM is an empirical and rational teaching method, based upon how the brain works. Academic lessons are intended to stimulate left-brain learning, leading towards communication. "Behaviors" or stims are used to help determine the student's open learning channels.

RPM aims to be conversational, age-appropriate and individually adapted to the learner. Success in learning is the reward in RPM.

Learning should occur in every RPM session, regardless of a student's behavior. Teaching can be accomplished despite behaviors as long as the teacher's focus remains on the work at hand, rather than on the student's stims.
 
What are the basic components of Soma's RPM?
Teaching how to choose and what to choose
Persons with autism need to be empowered with decision-making and allowed to realize there's a consequence to their choice. Soma begins by teaching students how to choose and what to choose. Soma first asks them to select from two choices. Eventually students progress to spelling by pointing to letters when presented with one row (3-6 choices), then two rows, and so on, up to a letter board (26 choices).

Building self-esteem, success and interest
Building the students' self-esteem is an important aspect of RPM. Because of the lack of social initiation and communication skills inherent to those severely affected by their autism, parents and educators sometimes get into the habit of 'talking down' to non-verbal students, as opposed to communicating with intelligence, substance and sophistication in language. This notion should not be mistaken to mean that ASD students learn and understand just like everyone else. They do need instruction individualized to open learning channels. But when treated with confidence, ASD students (just like typical students) are more hopeful and sure about themselves and their potential. Assumed intelligence and age-appropriate instruction should not be misconstrued as implying that students already know all of their academics. It does imply that students are very able to learn. Also, it emphasizes the importance of exposure to information and access to knowledge. Students must be exposed to interesting and varied topics if they are ever to gain more knowledge.

Providing patience and practice for motor skill development
Pointing is a critical skill to hone. It may sound simplistic, but the ability to point and move one's arm side to side and up and down involves many joints and muscles and motor planning which is difficult for many students with an ASD. Working this skill requires a tremendous amount of patience, understanding as well as encouragement from the parent and teacher. When motor skills improve, students move to pointing to 3-4 letters on a line, and gradually up to more letters and lines until a student is able to have success pointing to a QWERTY chart (which is simply an alphabet sheet sequenced like a keyboard). This progression can be challenging and tedious for both parties, but it is well worth the effort.

Understanding the challenges
Tito's book: "The Mind Tree: A Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism" provides an insightful glimpse into what it is like to have severe autism. For example, Tito describes his struggle to use more than one of his senses simultaneously. Motor planning difficulties are also explained in such experiences as trying to ride a tricycle. Tito says that he tried to order his legs to move (to pedal the bike), but that they would not move. Reading how he perceives the environment improves one's understanding of the plight of persons with ASD.
 
Does using RPM "cure" autism?
No. Just as the name -- Helping Autism through Learning and Outreach -- implies, HALO is focused on enhancing the lives of persons with autism by providing optimal academic learning opportunities. HALO expects persons with autism to be treated with dignity and respect, in spite of their differences.
 
Do you expect me to believe RPM is "real"?
Of course RPM is real.

Soma uses a teach-ask paradigm of giving information, and immediately asking for a response. Observers frequently focus on the student response, and miss the fact that Soma first provided the information, and then asked a question about what she said. Example: "Dog is spelled D-O-G. What did I say? Dog is spelled D-G-O or D-O-G?" This format for teaching can be used with most any subject matter, no matter how complex the topic. Example: "NaCl is sodium chloride. Did I say NaCl is sodium chloride or sodium hydroxide?"

When the teacher appropriately adapts the delivery and response to the individual, any student may have success regardless of their functional level.

Teaching and learning is an age-old process. It does not take scientific research to realize that children must be taught if they are ever to learn and improve. ASD students need not be deprived of teaching and learning opportunities because of diagnosis, differences or doubt about a student's potential.
 
Is RPM derived from Facilitated Communication?
No.

RPM is a teaching method which uses prompting to initiate a student's independent response, without physical support.

In addition to teaching letter-chart pointing, RPM also utilizes stencils and other drawing exercises to lead to independent handwriting.

Tito's mention in his book "The Mind Tree" about feeling his body when his mother touched his arm is not a reference to FC use. Tito is actually very tactilly defensive, and Soma does not touch his body while he is typing or hand writing independently. In addition, Tito's insightful writings emerged only after Soma spent several years intensively teaching him academics.
 
Is RPM for communication or academics?
RPM is used to teach academics, and communication is also taught in the process.

Verbal and written expression is the ultimate goal for all students, but the levels of achievement of those skills vary among students. RPM supports the acquisition of expressive language, and RPM is in itself a communication outlet.

Without academic exposure, students lack motivation and conversational skills. RPM learning equips students with the subject matter and motor skills needed to learn to communicate effectively.
 
Will RPM work for students who have spoken communication skills?
Yes. Soma has discovered that, with verbal ASD students, their written and spelled answers tend to be more reliable and accurate than their spoken language. Although speaking is part of the teaching goal, learning to reason and communicate meaningfully is the RPM teaching priority.
 
Has RPM been used effectively on students with diagnoses other than autism?
Soma has worked with students with a number of similar disorders including Angelman Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and students with other Chromosomal abnormalities. In addition, some parents who use RPM with their ASD child report that they also borrow teaching concepts from RPM to teach typical siblings.
 
Does RPM work on a student with a dual-diagnosis (i.e. Down Syndrome and autism)?
Yes. RPM is a method, which is individually adapted to the learner, and it is focused on teaching to the student's open learning channel. If done as intended, RPM is a learning method which "works" on every student.

Some of the dually-diagnosed students with whom Soma worked were: blind, deaf, Angelman's Syndrome, Fragile X, Isodicentric 15, Down Syndrome, and others.
 
What kind of communication can we expect from RPM?
In order to communicate, the learner must grow his or her motor skills so that he or she can independently - without physical support - point to letters to form words on a letterboard, typing device, and/or by handwriting. These skills can be achieved through practice.

1. RPM can successfully empower the learner to demonstrate factual
knowledge previously learned.

2. RPM can successfully empower the learner to demonstrate his or
her reasoning based on his or her factual knowledge.

3. RPM can empower the learner to express his or her emotions and
immediate environmental reactions - wants and needs, comfort
and discomfort - by spelling them out.

4. However, RPM cannot, in every instance, empower the learner to
generate an episodic memory with 100 % accuracy. This is due
to differences in encoding, and differences in expectancy, which
can lead to differences in affect assigned to an episode, goals
and values and the ability to integrate self-regulatory planning
around a situation.

Often, wrong encoding can lead to different episodic memory getting stored in the mind of an autistic person, due to over- or under-sensitivity. Again, the episodic memory is stored in different units of language, emotions, beliefs and actions.

Due to the under-connectivity of neurons in the brain of a person with autism, certain episodes can be wrongly encoded and thus may be communicated in a misleading manner.

Parents and professionals must consider the above facts before drawing any conclusions about a related episode. (This does not, however, mean that every episode is wrongly coded. If the right encoding takes place, followed by the other steps, episodes may be rightly coded.)
 
Should I disbelieve an autistic person who is relating an episode?
Not necessarily. An autistic person is generating a memory as it was experienced by his or her perceptions and is trying his or her best to communicate it. Due to differences in encoding, the episode is stored in a different way. We must be sympathetic toward his or her communication but also be responsible to crosscheck the facts so that misunderstandings are not created.
 
Is RPM a 'communication method'?
RPM is an education method that leads to communication. It uses empirical and rational approaches to teaching concepts. It allows the learner the ability to communicate his or her learning using two, three or more choices. The learner is then able to grow his or her motor skills and spell out learned facts from a lesson previously presented. Communication grows through the accumulation of knowledge of the facts acquired by the learner.
 
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USING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD

How does Soma handle a tantrum?
Soma uses the subject matter (numbers, spelling, etc.) to convert the right-brain tantrum to left-brain reasoning.
 
How can parents get started using RPM at home?
Read Tito's book, "The Mind Tree".
Attend a HALO RPM Workshop . Read Soma's manual "Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method" which can be purchased at our online store as well as Soma's conference dvd. Join HALO as a member to participate in the online RPM discussion forums.

When communicating with your child, offer written choices in the natural environment. Prompt the child to use a variety of response modes (picking up, pointing, stencils/writing, speech). Expose the child to sophisticated thoughts and subjects through conversation. Avoid "baby-talk!" Be confident in yourself and in your child.

Read to your child daily and ask questions about the text. Start with concrete and move to less concrete questions. Avoid conversation which focuses on feelings, especially when the child is having a tantrum.

To start using RPM through reading.....Read a couple of lines from any book, then ask a question, then spell and/or write the selected word. Then read some more and keep doing that throughout. Keep reading, and keep asking questions. For example: "There once was a fox who lived in a den.....What did I say? The fox lived in a den or a tree? Let's spell d-e-n, den.....The fox was hungry, so what do you think he decided to do? Eat or sleep? Let's spell e-a-t, eat."......and so on.

As one gains confidence and proficiency, teaching comes along more naturally. Any single sentence may be translated into a teaching opportunity for spelling, meaning, subject matter, sentence structure, etc.

Another "natural environment" learning opportunity that Soma used with Tito is to clip a photo and/or newspaper article, then write something about it.
 
Why do you use torn paper? Why don't you cut the paper in advance? Does RPM use paper excessively?
Paper tearing acts as an auditory, visual and kinesthetic prompt to initiate the student to focus on the written learning activity.

For those concerned about paper use, we are quite certain that RPM students do not utilize more paper than typical students. In fact, after RPM students advance to pointing to letter boards, the paper use decreases.
 
At what age should children begin RPM?
Because of the intensity of the sessions, HALO's students are a minimum seven years of age before scheduling an RPM appointment with Soma.

In the meantime, parents should begin work at home. "Natural environment" RPM should begin at birth as parents talk, explain, read and sing to children.
Soma explains that when Tito was very young, she talked to him incessantly. (For example: "I see it's 12 o'clock, do you think we should now have lunch or breakfast? Yes, at noon we have lunch, and what shall we cook?....I think potatoes, let's get them, and where do we keep them? Yes, in the pantry, and now we'll pick them up and take them to be peeled....How would you describe potatoes? Do you think they are round and smooth or flat and sharp? Now let's sort the potatoes from the onions, and then we'll count by pointing".....etc.) She constantly described and explained and posed questions to cause Tito to use reasoning and to make choices.

For young kids, Soma recommends offering written choices for age-appropriate material (for 2-3-year-olds, that would mean teaching nursery rhymes, alphabet, numbers 1-10, colors, shapes, etc.). For example: "Would you say 'Twinkle, twinkle little S-T-A-R star, or B-A-L-L, ball? Point to the answer." Most kids are not reading at the age of 2-3, but they learn HOW to choose and WHAT to choose, and the exposure to written and spoken letters and words will help accelerate their ability to read and write.
 
How does Soma handle aggressive or violent behavior?
If a student is agitated or uneasy and requires more personal space, Soma may stand to work from behind the seated student, or directly in front of the student. Soma converts students' right-brain emotional state by teaching specific subject matter (for example: math and spelling) to activate left-brain reasoning.
 
Why does Soma use written words instead of pictures?
To translate a picture to language is a longer pathway in the brain than it is to translate written letters and words to language. Especially since under-connectivity of the brain is a characteristic of ASD, using the shortest, most efficient pathway to language is preferred. Teaching and communicating with written words also provides a more direct route to learning to read.
 
Should I buy an AlphaSmart keyboard for my student?
Some students may have the motor skill ability to use a keyboard, but many ASD students do not. HALO encourages parents neither to rush nor to be dependent upon technological or augmentative devices. Staying low-tech allows the parent/teacher to focus more on subject matter and less on using complicated or distracting equipment.
 
How many times of day should I use RPM with my student?
Two sessions a day, in addition to time for reading and other activities and therapies, may be adequate. It may be necessary for beginners to start with just a few minutes, and gradually increase the session length to 30-60 minutes.
 
Why does Soma typically sit to the student's right side?
Soma prefers to work while sitting to a student's right side to stimulate left-brain auditory learning, and to keep the visual focus straight ahead on the table work.
 
Does Soma require the child to make eye contact?
No. Soma focuses her visual attention on the work so that the student will also.
 
Do you use this method to teach social skills?
Yes, one may teach procedure through the theory. Use explanation questions, and conversation. For example: " It's time for you to go, will you tell me 'bye', or will you tell me 'sorry'?"
 
How does Soma teach a young child who does not like to sit still at a table?
In most cases, she would use a confined workspace, with the wall on the student's left side, and Soma sitting to the right.
 
How does Soma determine a student's dominant learning channel?
Soma observes the students reactions to his environment as well as the student's primary stim, which can be the best indicator. Example: How does the student respond to a book?.... Does he flip the pages? (kinesthetic/visual) Does he focus on a specific part? (visual) Does he bang the book against something? (auditory) Does he tear the pages? (auditory/tactile) Any of these behaviors would help point to open learning channels.
 
Why does Soma sometimes hold the student's left hand, causing the student to respond with the right hand?
Soma encourages right-hand response to stimulate left-brain learning, and to curb a student's stimming with the left hand. Occasionally a student picks both choices using both hands. Then it becomes necessary for the teacher to hold the left hand just to have the child pick one choice.
 
Does Soma try to "teach" alternative types of stims which are more socially acceptable than others?
No. Soma does not interfere with the stims. She uses intensity and frequency to compete with stims so that attention for learning may occur.
 
How does RPM deal with behavior?
RPM is designed to activate the reasoning part of the brain so that the student is distracted by and engaged in learning.

We are rather insistent that learning should occur in every RPM session, regardless of behavior. Learning can be accomplished despite behaviors as long as the teacher's focus remains on the work at hand, rather than the student's compliance.
 
How do you devise a lesson plan?
In her book "Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method", in workshops and in training sessions, Soma explains the components of a proper lesson and how to adapt it to different types of learners. Online members are also encouraged to go to the Resource Page to download sample lesson plans.
 
How and why does Soma maintain such a fast teaching pace?
Soma's pace competes with the stim of the student. New students tend to require a faster pace. Usually after students are accustomed to RPM, the speed can decrease.
 
Will constant talking during instruction be distracting to the student?
Auditory learning is important, regardless of whether the student is used to it or not. Some students are more comfortable listening to environmental sounds than spoken language, so they must become accustomed to attending to the teacher's voice.
 
If the student's response accuracy is low, what should I do?
Videotape yourself working with the student, and analyze how you need to adjust your teaching. For example: Are you using appropriate prompts? Are you keeping a running dialogue? Are you putting choices equidistant from the choosing hand?
 
Why does Soma start with only 2 choices?
The beginning RPM teaching goal is for students to learn how to choose and what to choose, from two choices. Eventually students progress to spelling by pointing to letters when presented with one row (3-6 choices), then two rows, on up to a letter board (which equates to 26 choices).
 
Does Soma ever use tangible reinforcers during RPM instruction?
No. Success in learning is the reward.
 
What curriculum/resource books do you use for teaching?
Age appropriate, standard public school textbooks, an assortment of reading books, curriculum workbooks, and varied sources.
 
When does Soma fade prompts?
If and when the student no longer needs the prompt.
 
Why is prompting necessary?
A fundamental characteristic of autism is lack of initiation. Prompting a response is often necessary, especially in the "how to choose and what to choose" stage of learning. Some prompts may be faded over time, but then again, some students need more prompting than others. Accepting no-response due to no prompting is not considered good RPM teaching technique. All RPM students must have an appropriate mode of response so that they may successfully express what is learned.
 
How does Soma teach a student who is not visually attentive?
Soma could use auditory, tactile or kinesthetic prompts.
 
Does Soma force left-handed students to handwrite with the right hand?
No.
 
Do you recommend using RPM in a classroom, with more than one child at a time?
No, not initially. Soma worked individually with school children for several months before she attempted teaching them in a small group, with 1:1 aides offering written choices to each student. Individual RPM sessions are preferred so that the teaching may be adjusted to the stim speed and the open learning channel of each student.
 
Will RPM cause prompt dependency?
Prompt dependency is preferred to the alternative of allowing no response or no learning to occur. In most cases, once motor skills are learned, the need for and frequency of prompts decreases.
 
What should one do if the student only points to one side to choose?
Give answers repeatedly to the opposite side. And, if necessary, direct the student to refocus to that opposite side until the student attends to both choices.
 
How does Soma determine a student's open learning channel?
The student's primary stim can be the best indicator. This topic is best explained at Soma's presentations.
 
How does Soma teach an older child who needs more personal space?
Soma will sometimes work from behind, or sometimes from the front to slow the movement (if the student is not sitting).
 
Do all students require fast-paced instruction?
No. Soma's pace competes with the stim of the student. New students tend to require a faster pace. Usually after students are accustomed to RPM, the speed can decrease.
 
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LEARNING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD

I am unable to travel to see Soma, how do I get started in RPM?
Join HALO as a member which gives you access to our online "Member Forum" Here you can ask questions ,read previous posts,interact with other parents and professionals who are learning the use of RPM. Under our "Resources" section we also provide lesson plans to help you get started at home with your child using RPM. Our FAQ section also addresses many common concerns.

Soma's new manual "Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method" is available at our "Online Store" as well as Amazon & Borders.You can also check with your local book store.
 
How can I get RPM training?
HALO offers "Soma®RPM Introductory Course " taught by Soma Mukhopadhyay at the HALO clinic in Austin,TX. Please go to our "Learning RPM" section of this website for more information.
 
When will a RPM Manual be available?
Soma's manual "Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method" is released and available for purchase through HALO's online store, Amazon.com, Borders or most local bookstores.
 
How do I get my school to use RPM?
Identify a professional in your school to be a candidate for the "Introductory course in Soma® RPM " or contact HALO directly regarding consultation services.
 
How can I get a video of Soma's instruction? May I purchase a video of Soma's conferences and/or presentations?
Soma's conference dvd is available for purchase through HALO's online store.
 
How do I request a Soma visit to my area? How long will it take?
For members you can go to "Resources" section of this website for the "Event Request" package information or contact HALO directly at 1-866-465-9595 or information@halo-soma.org
 
Beyond the website information, how can I learn more about RPM?
Read Soma's manual
"Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method" Available at Amazon.com as well as Halo's online store where you can also purchase

Tito's books "How Can I Talk if My Lip's Don't Move?""The Mind Tree" "Gold of the Sunbeams"

Attend a HALO RPM Workshop and/or purchase one of Soma's conference dvd. Join HALO as a member to participate in the online RPM discussion forums.
 
What types of training opportunities does HALO offer parent RPM users?
HALO offers the " Soma® RPM Introductory Course "which is open to Parents and Professionals interested in learning more about the Rapid Prompting Methodology.
 
May I videotape Soma's conferences and/or presentations?
No. Soma's work is under copyright. HALO reserves the sales and distribution rights of Soma's presentations.
 
May I conduct an RPM presentation and/or sell or distribute RPM instruction tapes to others?
No. HALO reserves the sales and distribution rights of Soma's instructional sessions. Only certified RPM providers are permitted with advance notice to use RPM footage for public presentations.
 
Where can I purchase Tito's book?
Please refer to our online store.
 
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ASSESSING RAPID PROMPTING METHOD

How does Soma test students who neither speak, write, nor point clearly?
Students learn how to choose and what to choose. The mode of response is determined by their motor skills. A student with limited mobility may initially "bat" at answers, which are placed far apart.
 
Is Soma just "giving" the answer?
No. Soma is teaching the information, and then requiring the student to choose an answer to respond.
 
When will RPM be researched?
RPM researched was conducted by Cornell University

http://www.frontiersin.org/Educational_Psychology/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00012/abstract#
 
Does Soma assume her students already know how to spell and read?
No.
 
Why does Soma have more teaching success than me?
It takes tremendous effort and practice to replicate Soma.

Soma herself is an avid student and teacher. She has developed and honed her method for more than 17 years, and she has worked with more than 1000 students to date.

Soma's constant teaching conversation and verbal prompting is a work of art. Those with the best success have adopted her dozens of "Soma-isms" into their language and delivery.
 
Why doesn't my student respond to open-ended questions?
It is easier to react to a question or presented information than to develop a novel response. (For example: Consumer surveys and standardized test rely on multiple choice questions rather than open-ended questions, because it is quicker and easier to choose and/or reason an answer from the offered options.)

Information is stored in different parts of the brain, and offering choices can help guide students more quickly to the part of the brain to access and retrieve a response. The aim in RPM is getting the best (not simply testing) out of the child to enable maximum output in that given time. As a student's cognitive and motor proficiency increases, the sophistication of a student's response also increases.
 
How does Soma know if a student has retained the learning?
At the end of a session, or in the next session, Soma circles back to a line of questioning on what was previously taught.
 
What types of tests does Soma use, and how are the tests administered?
Soma uses public school standardized multiple-choice tests. Learning how tests are administered in RPM is best understood by seeing how Soma adapts the delivery and mode of response for different types of learners.
 
Why doesn't my student respond when I ask questions based on opinion and emotion?
Giving language to a feeling is complex, even for neuro-typical people. Especially when one is in a right-brain, emotionally charged frame-of-mind, feelings and opinions can be hard to interpret and articulate. For example: Ask a two-year-old child who missed a nap, "Why are you being grumpy?" The child would unlikely reply, "Because I'm sleepy." More likely, the child would reply in defiance: "I'm not grumpy!" In addition, feelings can be mixed; happiness with embarrassment, anger with sadness, fear with excitement; which makes a description even more challenging to categorize and to express.
 
How does Soma assess what a student knows and what he needs to learn?
Soma starts teaching age-appropriate subject matter or an activity to assess a student's language, reasoning and motor skills. She then adjusts the lesson to the level of the student based on the student's responses.
 
Do Soma's students already know all of the answers to her questions?
Absolutely not. RPM uses a teach-ask paradigm of giving information, and then immediately asking for an answer. For example: "A square has 4 sides. What did I say? A square has 4 sides, or 3 sides?
 
What type of data does Soma take and/or how does she test?
Soma uses public school standardized multiple-choice tests. The aim is to teach and test ASD students on age-level subject matter. Soma's testing administration is adjusted to allow an appropriate mode of response for a student's motor abilities and the open learning channel. Other special education disciplines have used data sheets for RPM as part of a requirement. However, Soma does not use data sheets. She feels taking down hash marks interrupts the flow of instruction and inhibits the student's performance and success.
 
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SEEING SOMA

Will Soma work with my child?
Clinic appointments are available to HALO members who have already submitted a "New Client Intake" form. This form can be found under "Members" as well as our membership form.

Once both are received someone from HALO will contact you within 5-7 business days.

Because of Soma's limited travel and workshop availability, members are encouraged to schedule appointments with Soma at her clinic in Austin, the HALO headquarters location.
 
What schools, organizations, and or professionals use RPM?
HALO has consulted for a number of public and private schools and organizations across the U.S.
 
When will Soma visit my area?
Please watch our Calendar of Events page.
 
Where can I attend Soma's workshops or conferences?
Watch for upcoming events on the Calendar section of our website.
 
Where does Soma see students?
Soma sees clients, as well as providing training for professionals and parents, at her clinic in Austin, TX. Please complete and submit a "New client intake" form prior to calling for an appointment.
 
May I videotape my child's session with Soma?
HALO reserves the videotape copyright, so session taping is only by previous written permission from HALO. Videotape of Soma's instructional sessions is restricted to immediate family use, and is not to be used for public presentation without prior permission.
 
After my initial visit with Soma, when may I return?
Just as each student varies, so does the frequency with which clients return for repeat visits. Appointment frequency depends upon schedule availability for both Soma and the family.
 
Where does Soma travel to provide instruction?
Soma travels all over the United States . Those who are interested and live outside the U.S. can contact HALO directly for more information at information@halo-soma.org
 
Does Soma have prior knowledge of a student's abilities before the initial instructional session?
Not usually. If possible, she likes to know a student's age and if he/she has violent behaviors.
 
May I observe Soma's instructional sessions in the HALO clinic?
At least one parent/caregiver is expected to attend their student's instructional session with Soma.

Professionals with serious interest in RPM must first contact HALO directly at 1-866-465-9595 and/or complete a "Contact Form" inquiry which can be found under "Contact" to schedule dates/times observation is available and HALO's observation fee
 
What should we expect to happen at our visit RPM session with Soma?
Soma starts immediately to teach each student, and her initial assessment takes place during a 30-minute instructional session. HALO's expectation is that parents arrive already a little bit informed (having read Tito's book and/or attended one of Soma's presentations or Soma's manual "Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method is available at our online store) about the principles of RPM.
 
What background client information do you need about my child?
Completion of a HALO "New client" intake form is sufficient. This form can be found under "Members"
 
May Soma travel outside of the U.S. to provide RPM training and instruction?
Yes, it is now possible. Please contact Halo for more information.
 
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ABOUT HALO and SOMA

Does Soma use biomedical treatments on Tito?
Soma's and HALO's expertise is in education, not biomedical treatment. For information on up-to-date biomedical treatments for autism, one may refer to the website of the Autism Research Institute (http://autism.com/ari/).
 
From where does Soma get all of her energy?
Black tea, with plenty of cream and sweetner.
 
Does Soma or HALO have anything to do with Portia Iversen's book "Strange Son"?
We generally appreciate those who work towards autism efforts. However, Soma and HALO's position differs from the author, title and book, which we do not endorse. We encourage those interested to learn more about Soma's RPM through exploring HALO's website, which includes explanatory text, video clips, products and a helpful member forum.

HALO is aimed at increasing understanding, awareness and acceptance of those with autism. Persons with autism may display alternate behavior due to their sensory system struggles, but we at HALO feel individuals with autism have their own unique strengths which deserve to be recognized with respect and dignity, rather than name calling.

Soma's RPM is an education method, and is not to be confused as mere pointing to a letterboard. The rational and empirical learning process follows a hierarchy for both cognitive and motor skills. Students' mode of response varies due to skill levels, but all students are started in the learning process with 2 written choices from which to select. The aim is to teach academics, and communication emerges from the process.
 
How was HALO formed?
HALO was chartered as a non-profit organization in October 2002 in Austin, Texas. The original intention was to develop a model school program for students with autism. At the same time, Soma Mukhopadhyay was teaching at a Los Angeles school as part of her research fellowship (which ended in 2003). Soma used her Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) to teach a small school group of students with autism, and as interest in her RPM flourished, Soma realized she needed an employer/organization to support her work on a national scale. In January 2004, Soma, Linda Lange, and a dozen RPM advocates nationwide joined to form the board and the new mission of HALO.
 
How can I get involved with HALO?
We greatly appreciate your moral support, but we also need your monetary support. HALO is inundated with requests for website information, training opportunities, videos to purchase, research of the method, etc. Currently, Soma's (affordable) session and consulting fees along with donations to HALO shoulder the bulk of the organization's expenses. HALO needs fellow RPM users and supporters to invest financially in our mission of improving learning for persons with autism.
 
I submitted an event request, so why hasn't HALO yet scheduled Soma to visit our area?
HALO is inundated with travel requests. To start, the RPM users and supporters who wish to request should have at least a basic familiarity with Soma and RPM (read Tito's book, attend one of Soma's events, Soma's manual "Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method or purchase one of Soma's conference dvd's) Next, submit a "Contact Form"inquiry which can be found under "Contact" If you are already a HALO member, you may go to the Resources Page to download an "Event Request" packet.

Please be patient. Travel requests are not fulfilled on a first-come-first-serve basis, rather they are made based on several factors such as personal and financial support for RPM in the local area, ensuring it will spread use of RPM to various parts of the country, and accommodation into Soma's hectic travel schedule. Currently, the priority for workshops is for exposing as many new people as possible to RPM. Soma is now focusing on cultivating new areas around the U.S. which have yet to become acquainted with RPM.

In order to meet the high demand, HALO needs RPM supporters to invest in our mission of improving educational opportunities for all persons with autism and similar disorders.
 
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If you did not find the information you are looking for contact us and we'll be happy to answer your question.
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