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…”