Tag Archives: Lesson plan

The Final Day With Soma and A Word About Methodologies

Yesterday was the last day of Soma Mukhopadhyay‘s 4-day training.  I wrote about it ‘here‘, ‘here‘, and ‘here‘.  Soma packs an enormous amount of information into four days.  She discussed everything from neural pathways of the brain to which parts of the brain are used during specific activities, to how to devise lesson plans and ways to physically position oneself in relation to the student.  There were so many surprising moments, but one that I never could have anticipated, was how helpful it was to learn about the actual brain function during moments that are emotionally charged or OCD.  Learning some of the basics in brain function demystified a great many things in a way I hadn’t before considered.

Given what we now know, and granted it isn’t much comparatively speaking, but is so much more than we knew even twenty years ago, it is astonishing that certain older therapies continue to be popular and used for autism.  Two of the most destructive phrases used with an Autistic person are the dreaded, “Look at me!” and “Use your words!” I cannot list how many times Emma has been instructed to “use your words” only to do so and be ignored.  It seems those who say “use your words” really mean, “use the words I want to hear”.   Add to that the insistence that an Autistic student have “quiet hands” and not stim because it is believed learning cannot take place while stimming even though by removing the stim no learning can or will take place because we’ve just taken away the one thing that was allowing the student to stay focused and attend, even if it did not “look” that way to us.  We non Autistics have a tough time understanding anything or anyone who is vaguely different from ourselves.  Before we start calling ourselves “experts” in Autism, we might want to become “experts” in our own neurology first, at least we’d have a better handle on our own limitations and see how those can so easily dovetail into how we are interpreting what we’ve decided is “the truth” about someone else.

I have written about methodologies before on this blog.  There are some that I find more troubling than others, but in the end, the thing I care about more than anything else is: is it helping my child?  Is she learning?  Is she safe?  Will the short-term gains be at the cost of long-term pain and even trauma?  What is this doing to her self-esteem?  Is respectful interaction being modeled?  Is she being humiliated, shamed, made to feel badly for the way her brain processes information?  Is she being taught by people who believe in her ability to learn?  Are her teachers believing her capable and giving her the tools she needs to flourish and be all that she can be?  Is she assumed to be competent or is she being forced to prove her competence?  Is she being taught the same equation, story, concept and terms over and over?  Is she seen as a human being with the same rights as any other person?  Would YOU want to be treated the way you are treating and teaching this person?

I don’t care what the methodology is, who created it or how many people believe in its efficacy, if it isn’t taking these questions into account, I am not interested in it.  I do not care what others believe, I don’t care what the “experts” say, I don’t care how many letters a person has after their name or who created the methodology or the various papers and/or books the person has written, if the methodology is not attempting to consider these other ideas, I am not interested in it.  I, as a parent,  am not invested in any particular methodology unlike so many schools.  And for that reason I have far more leeway than most schools do, to keep trying different things until we (I’m including my wonderful husband) find the thing or a combination of things that will best help our daughter learn, grow and become all that she can be.  In the end that is what we care about more than anything.

This weekend I will create a lesson plan for my daughter with age appropriate materials for next week’s  RPM session.  I am hoping I will be able to demonstrate, at least some of what I’ve learned, to Emma’s therapist and her teacher.    But I also know I will make mistakes, I do not expect that after four days of an intensive training I will do Soma’s method well, but I think I have a fairly good understanding of the basics so that I can start, at least, trying.

Wish me luck!

Soma Mukhopadhyay – March, 2013


Soma Mukhopadhyay ~ Day 3

It is hard to believe how much information Soma is able to pack into the first three days of a four-day training.  She has managed to cover the different learning channels and how to teach toward each one.  We learned about the various stages of development, left brain/right brain, the difference between an excitatory stim and a calming stim.  The importance of presuming competence, working through self-injury and highly charged emotional situations have all been discussed.  We were taught that social expression and gestures begin in the hypothalamus travels down into the body, then back up to the somatosensory cortex, to the pre-motor cortex and finally to the motor cortex and how at any point along the way, things can become disconnected causing the Autistic person tremendous challenges in behaving as we non-autistics might expect.  We learned about OCD and how to interrupt it by asking the student to spell a relevant word or introduce numbers and/or a math problem as a way of working with it while at the same time diffusing it.

Soma described how to implement a lesson plan around just about any topic, mental mapping and the different stages of rapid prompting method.  We went over methodologies and how to plan a lesson by using flow charts, listing objectives, relevant spelling words and key terms and concepts that need to be introduced, explored and learned.  She taught us the importance of teaching concepts, and the words used, as well as reading comprehension, spelling, grammar and such abstract ideas as time, symbolism, relativity, belief systems and throughout all of this Soma emphasized the importance of teaching age appropriate or above age level materials while filling in the gaps of what isn’t yet learned.

I’m exhausted, exhilarated, but exhausted and there’s still one day to go!  Today, the final day of the training, we are going to cover how to teach math and math goals, how to take and administer a test, how to teach poetry, literature and creative writing and the training will end in a review aka test. Tests have always been my downfall when I was in school.  I become anxious and overly nervous.  When I was in high school I learned to over study and even then I would become easily overwhelmed if I didn’t know the answer to a question and would get so upset that even the questions I could answer would go unanswered because I couldn’t move on from the one I didn’t know.  Writing all of this makes me aware of how similar my daughter is to me in this regard.  She also becomes fixated and upset when she gets an answer wrong.  She too has trouble moving on to the next question or topic, can become dis-regulated and overly anxious.  I will try to incorporate some of the exercises Soma has taught to see if I can interrupt my obsessive thinking if and when it happens.  So much of what Soma teaches could be used for anyone, even me!  I could write a lesson plan around that…