A number of people contacted me regarding the documentary – A Mother’s Courage – the documentary about an Icelandic woman’s search to help her autistic son. The documentary tracks the journey of a mother who interviews many and eventually goes to Austin, Texas where Soma Mukhopadhyay has created the Halo Clinic. Soma is the mother of a non-verbal autistic child, Tito. (Tito is no longer a child.) Soma developed a program, Rapid Prompting Method, to teach her son to read and write. Tito has gone on to write several books, despite being non-verbal.
Joe, Emma’s therapist and I drove out to the Bronx this past Saturday where Soma was leading a workshop. Soma described RPM as a method to “empower the student and express himself.” Soma’s method takes a non-judgmental view of self-stimulatory behaviors. She believes they are clues that can help us interact and teach the autistic child. Soma never once implied nor does her website that her method is a “cure” for autism. RPM is a means by which autistics can learn to communicate.
For those of us who parent an autistic child, that is an amazing and wonderfully hopeful prospect. There is not a day that passes when I do not have the thought – I wish I knew what Emma was thinking. I wish I had a window into her world. The idea that Emma might one day be able to read and write is something I have hardly dared to wish for.
Toward the end of the workshop, Soma’s son Tito wrote on the large pad of paper Soma had propped up on an easel: “I think you are talking too loud.” Soma had been speaking into a microphone. She held the microphone to his mouth so he could hear how he sounded as he made a noise into it. It was a light hearted moment, a moment of a teenager commenting on his mother.
Tito writes in his book – The Mind Tree: “One day I dream that we can grow in a matured society where nobody would be ‘normal or abnormal’ but just human beings, accepting any other human being – ready to grow together.”
I have ordered Soma’s book describing in detail her Rapid Prompting Method. I am guardedly optimistic.
For more information on Soma and her work with her son Tito, go to: www.halo-soma.org