“It’s Good to Be Heard”

It’s good to be heard

These are the words my daughter spelled out yesterday during an RPM session.  She wrote some other wonderful things too, but I don’t have her permission to print them here.

“It’s good to be heard”

Imagine a life where it was not a given that what you said would be listened to, or even understood.  Imagine if you said things you didn’t mean or that people couldn’t follow the meaning and so you were dismissed.  Imagine being treated “like a three-year old” (this was something else my daughter wrote last week) by people who do not understand, cannot understand, are incapable of understanding because it flies directly in the face of all they’ve been taught and know.  My daughter does not have the mind of a three-year old, despite what anyone else may think or assume.

“It’s good to be heard”

Thanks to a number of dedicated people who have devoted their lives to figuring out alternate ways for people to communicate who cannot or do not reliably speak, my daughter is communicating with us.  Much to our surprise she has managed to learn an enormous amount despite the fact that she has spent years of her life in little more than holding tanks, i.e. special education schools where “life skills” classes are lauded as progressive, where verbal speech is seen as the only true barometer by which intelligence can be gauged.

It’s good to be heard”

RPM copy

30 responses to ““It’s Good to Be Heard”

  1. What underwrites not-hearing is very complex: and has dynamics coextensive with collective life itself; certainly if voicing and not-being-heard has an autistic ground (or basis).
    Autistic voicing is heard by those willing and able to position themselves to shoulder and hold-off the process of collective life that underwrites not-hearing; as a coffer-damming behind which an autistic child can develop naturally.
    As and when a constituency of autistic children, when ready, break out into mainstream waters, a new democratic impulse will see our collective life transformed.

  2. And I, for one, cannot wait for that day!

  3. It is so good to be heard. To be understood. To be listened to.

    Speaking people seem to be taking it for granted that when they speak, people will listen. And so they teach us that we need to speak before anyone will try to understand us. And we need to speak in their way before anyone will try to listen.

    Seeing you and Emma engage each other on a different level of understanding and listening makes me so happy. It gives me hope. 🙂

  4. I cannot wait for the day when I’m leaving a comment on Emma’s blog. Because I have a feeling that day is coming and fast. 🙂

  5. So great to hear you Em. So great to hear you too Ariane. I do like life skills classes though, everyone needs help in that area. But to designate the autistic population as the mandatory group of people who have to take life skills classes is wrong.

    • Happy Birthday Shenny!

      Well, yes, we ALL could use classes in life skills. I am speaking more specifically about the frustration or monumental boredom she has had to cope with from having spent years having teachers who “tried” to teach her to read a clock and what a penny, nickel, dime and quarter were equal to, only to conclude she could not understand the concepts. Meanwhile she already knew all that and so much more, but couldn’t express her knowledge in anyway anyone understood, so everyone decided (including us, by the way) that she didn’t/couldn’t grasp such concepts.

  6. Yea Em! It must be so satisfying for you and for her. Likely you will not want to answer this as it is probably too personal of a question about Emma, but I was wondering if you have seen any other changes since she started communicating through RPM. I am in the middle of Ido in Autismland, and he kept mentioning that he was so angry that he hadn’t been heard and that he took it out on the people that were believing in him and that were helping him communicate. Alternately, when Nathan is struggling to tell me something and I finally “get” it, I can see how satisfied he feels and excited he is that I was finally able to understand him. (Granted, during these times, even though I have to put more “work” on him–“Can you tell me more? What color is it?”” etc.– I put the responsibility of not understanding on myself–“I’m sorry I don’t understand. Let me try to help you. I’m trying to figure it out.” etc–). This might go back to personality types, too.

  7. Laurie Bernstein

    What a beautiful “voice” you have Emma!

  8. So great to hear you! Ariane, thanks to you and Emma and others I’m hearing and understanding more everyday 🙂

  9. Oh, that is so beautiful! Hugs to you and Emma. May we all keep listening.

  10. As a person who supports students using Facilitated Communication the most important message that I hope readers take away from you writing is ALWAYS PRESUME COMPETENCE. The insightful, smart and funny kids that I work with daily have taught me so much more than I have taught them 🙂

    • I hope that’s what others will hear, Karen. Douglas Biklen helped me enormously in understanding what presuming competence means. In the beginning I did what I thought was presuming competence and it was a huge shift from what I’d been doing, but now over a year later I see how far I’ve come with still more to go all the time. It’s a concept that continues to expand as my understanding and awareness does. It’s a beautiful thing!

  11. I am going to try this RPM stuff with my daughter, Nikki, and see. It would be so exciting to see what she has been thinking about all this time. I have been watching this blog for about a week, and I couldn’t figure out what exactly you were talking about. I looked up Ido’s book on Amazon, and I contacted Soma. Every once in a while you should probably run an ad. Or explain about RPM. Nikki is an adult. I home schooled her for five years from age 11 to 16. I know she is smart. She just has a hard time communicating it.

    • Oh Marie, good for you! And thank you for the suggestion to explain these things a bit more, or at least provide links, for those just coming here for the first time, that’s such a great suggestion.

      Soma has a way of being that the people who see her just seem to understand and respond to. I’ve watched her work with more than a dozen different people and it’s incredible to witness.

      Wishing you great success and keep me updated, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  12. This is just beautiful, thank you for sharing :). And thank you for shedding more light on RPM, the importance of finding ways of communication is immeasurable.

  13. Makes my heart swell with happiness that Em can be heard now, that all of our beautiful children can be heard 🙂 ❤

  14. I can’t imagine what it was like for Emma not to be heard for all these years.

  15. emma and az you inspire me! my beautiful lights, i am writing a newsletter this week to expand on this truth. please ask emma if ol barb may use her quote and this photo of her telling our tale. grateful for you both, b

    • Emma says, “Go have sleepover with Barb and Lois!” And in answer to your question specifically she wrote, “Yes, it is okay.”

      Sending love, love, love to you Barb. You are a beacon.

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