“Let Me Tell You…”

Emma gave me permission to tell all of you what she would invent were she an inventor.  *A little background – the quotes from Emma are what she spelled out by pointing to a letter, one letter at a time on a stenciled alphabet board.  No one touches Emma as she does this.  In fact there is no physical contact of any kind during the session, also known as an RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) session.

Emma has been doing RPM daily with me since the end of September.  Within the past two weeks she has begun to answer open-ended questions with me.  However the session I am going to write about was with someone who was trained by Soma Mukhopadhyay (the creator of RPM) and whom she is now seeing a couple of times a week.  This person, who I have not asked permission to print her name and so will refer to as B, has been doing RPM for a while now and as a result is able to move far more quickly into open-ended questions than I am.

In their previous session they had discussed train engines.  At the end of their session B asked Emma to think about what she might invent were she an inventor.  When Emma returned for her next session they began with the question, “What would you think was a really great thing to invent?”

Emma then replied, “Let me tell you that it is not a train engine.”

I have to interject here…   I love how ballsy my daughter is.  I love that she didn’t just answer with one word.  I love how audacious, cocky even her answer was… “Let me tell you…”  Emma spells words out, and I sit watching, literally on the edge of my chair, waiting, wondering what wonderful words will she write?  “Let me tell you…”  YES!  I cannot wait to hear what you have to say!!!!!

Emma continued, “It is more from the future…”

B urged her to tell us more.

“It is a spaceship.”

For all who know my husband this answer has brought a smile to your face.  For those of you who do not, let’s just say he has a particular fascination with spaceships, UFO sightings, etc.  He has logged in many an hour watching YouTube clips of various sightings.   As I sat watching my daughter spelling out these words I kept thinking how much Richard was going to LOVE hearing about this session.  But there’s more…

B encouraged Emma to continue, asking her to tell us more about the spaceship she would invent.

Emma spelled out, “Have you ever seen spaceships in New York?”

Sorry, I have to interject again.  This question… this question is wonderful and defies all that is commonly thought about so many of our kids who cannot verbalize questions like this.  For all those parents who have never had their child ask a question, for all who have bought into this idea of Autistic self involvement, of a lack of interest in others, this thought that our children who are non-speaking or unreliable speakers are “caught” or “lost” in some other world… to all of you, I suggest we rethink these ideas.  My daughter is not the only one writing things like this, she is one of many, many children, teenagers and adults who cannot voice their thoughts, but are writing them.  I have watched her, time and time again, asking questions; this kind of engaged conversing goes against everything we are taught and being told about non-speaking/unreliably speaking autistic people.  

B answered Emma’s question saying that she had not seen a spaceship in New York City.  She said she’d seen a great many different types of transportation in New York City, but never a spaceship, to which Emma then wrote, “You never have to wait to go anywhere.”

B then asked her how you could get a spaceship and Emma wrote, “You buy it on your own or you get a monthly pass.”  (In New York City most of us take advantage of the terrific subway system.  To use the subway you need a “Metrocard” which you can purchase for a single ride, multiple rides or for those who commute daily a monthly card of unlimited rides.)

B observed that as parking in New York City is already limited she wondered where a spaceship would go.  Emma wrote, “No parking needed.  Once they have landed they become invisible.”

B then asked her,  “How do you call for one?”

Emma wrote, “You have a button to press and it arrives right away.”

Let me tell you…


33 responses to ““Let Me Tell You…”

  1. I would totally use that spaceship to get around NYC (or my city). Sure beats crowds and traffic!

  2. Hi Ariane

    That is wonderful. They never cease to amaze these children do they. I winder whether you might help me. Matt has a new Speech Therapist who casually informed me at the end of a meeting with her yesterday that she doesn’t believe in faciliative communication, all the research blah de blah. I have really got to know Matt over the last year and he has shared his innermost thoughts and feelings with not only me but also several people at school.

    I had taken Amy Sequenzia’s “My Voice” to the meeting which I personally find incredibly moving but I can see what I really need is some hard research to support FC. Since this is of particular interest to you I wonder if you can point me in the right direction to get this? I would be so grateful.

    I hope you and your family have a lovely weekend.

    Best wishes


    Sent from my iPad

  3. Oh, I want one! I”ll take a monthly pass please.

    You know, in Asperger’s original paper, he wrote of autistic children’s imaginations being defective and in particular mentioned one boy who only wanted to talk about space ships, which in 1944, were a wild fantasy. Asperger thought space ships was a completely impractical line of thinking and showed how autistic people were out of touch with the world around them. How funny that only 25 years later we put a man on the moon. One person’s wild fantasy is another person’s future.

  4. Zzzzoooooooooooooooom!!

  5. She’s got it all figured out! Man, you’ve got a cool kid there with you. Can’t wait to hear what amazing idea she shares next!

  6. I’m tired of dealing with the MTA; I’d like a monthly pass to Emma’s space ship, please. 🙂

  7. (I have never seen a space ship in NYC, but I did once see what I think was a meteor fall over New Jersey in broad daylight. It happened so fast, I don’t think anyone else saw it.)

  8. Susie christensen

    lost, broken and a burden? My behind, AS!!

  9. haha I love this! 🙂 ❤

  10. I’d love that spaceship too- her progress is amazing, so happy for both of you!

  11. How creative! i also would like to order a spaceship. Compared to NYC, we live out in the sticks…..20 minutes to the nearest shopping area (with the exception of one lone grocery store 10 minutes away). So, having one would cut down on my travel time considerably. How much do you think they would cost?

  12. That’s the thing with autistics–we see the future. Although Emma sounds like she may have seen an episode of Doctor Who. Ask her what her spaceship looks like, and if it’s a blue police box…you get my point.

  13. Hi Ariane, just had a question, and I think you might know the answer, but I could be completely wrong. There’s a blog by a non-speaking (I think) autistic woman I remember reading. Her name is Carly, or maybe Carley, but it wasn’t Carly Fleischmann. I’ve completely forgotten the URL of her blog. I know I found the link to her site from another blog I already read, and I thought it might have been yours, but I could be wrong. Do you have any idea who/what blog I’m talking about? Thanks!

  14. Oh, and I believe her blog was on Blogspot and had that popular blue and green background.

  15. …Never mind, you can ignore that. Sorry for the trouble! I just found the blog I was talking about. And her name was not, in fact, Carly. I thought it was because the person writing the blog reminds me of someone I know in real life named Carly.

  16. Haha, awesome, I love the parking solution 🙂

    • Me too! It solves so many problems that we have in NYC!

    • It has a logistical issue though as an invisible landed spacecraft is still likely to cause parking mayhem for other New Yorkers. I suppose if you had it though (or a pass to it) you wouldn’t care.

      • Well, “invisible” if taken as the literal idea of something still being there, only we cannot see it, but perhaps, with further clarification she would expand upon this idea to mean more than what we are believing to be the meaning of “invisible” and that this would include being transparent in other ways too, including transparency in form… 🙂

  17. I realized today and wrote about discovering that my daughter, who is 9 and autistic, can read, something we suspected but were never sure about. Right away, two people asked if I’d read your blog, which I hadn’t, but now will follow! I am so excited to hear about all Emma is doing. I suddenly have hope that Janey too might some day learn to write. Thank you, and tell Emma Janey thanks her too!

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