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Conversations In Speech Pathology


Mar 7, 2018

In this episode I’m asking an important question: Is it possible for a treatment methodology to be considered pseudoscience (at least today) and yet actually work for some individuals? Yes, I’m delving into the world of RPM (Rapid Prompting Method), a controversial approach to educating and opening up the possibility of authentic communication among individuals with autism. We’re talking letter boards, torn paper, the whole works! The centerpiece of my story is Benjamin, a teenager whose life has been changed by using RPM. Benjamin’s parents, Ashling and Jeff recount a story of frustration, misunderstandings, and ultimately hope. It’s the most powerful interview I’ve recorded in my podcast journey so far and I feel compelled to share it. This episode will no doubt stoke a great deal of strong feelings (to say the least) among some listeners. Please understand that I know there is a lack of solid research on RPM (hence the pseudoscience moniker). But I’m not here to pass judgement one way or the other on the method’s global efficacy. Good research will hopefully answer those bigger questions in the future. Right now, I’m just interested in talking about Benjamin and opening up some conversations. Finally, don’t forget to check out the show page for clickable links! I’ll also be posting a couple of videos of Benjamin on my Facebook page! Random Notes: This episode is over 2 hours long, but well worth the listen! I want to be clear that when I use the term "non-verbal", it should not be used to infer one's desire or potential to communicate. I deliberately censored the names of Benjamin's therapists, schools, and towns of residence for obvious reasons. I'm sure I'll add more to this list later :) Links: Benjamin’s Website: RPM’s Website Here is the video on Benjamin learning about the U.S. Constitution: Here is a link to the 60 Minutes video I referenced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfiap3a7Tuo A paper published on RPM referenced by the RPM website Some Interesting articles I’ve come across either on the topic of RPM and/or FC: From The Atlantic. This is mostly on persistence of Facilitated Communication (FC), but also mentioning RPM (which many critics view as two peas in a pod) This video was sent to me in order to show how one might prove a facilitative effect in the use of a letter board. You be the judge… There are many papers out there comparing FC to RPM. Here is one of them. A good summary of skeptics' concerns and a plea for research! http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/syracuse_apple_and_autism_pseudoscience