Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

“La Pandilla Salvaje” to the Rescue

And the reluctant literate has finally been captivated by a great story!

Our little introduction to RPM gave me tools and inspiration to engage him successfully to practice listening, which is hard work for him because his auditory channel filters and inhibits the flow of information at times—usually when listening to reading, or to peripherial conversations. For years I’ve wondered if Joaquin actually processes any of the information he appears not to receive when I read books to him, and now I know: He probably didn’t. Listening to someone reading is hard auditory processing work and although interested in the coziness of bedtime reading I bet he’s mostly coped by tuning out.

So after observing Lenae Crandall do a couple RPM sessions with Joaquin, I’ve modified my reading by going much slower. I’ll read a sentence and ask him a question about it, either to make sure he understands a certain word, or to check that he’s listened and understood. It takes us an hour to read an 11-page chapter, but all the pauses, prompts, and checks guarantee that the words have been processed; that he’s following the story. The slow pace and prompting keep engaged his attention. We’re strengthening a weak neurological connection and, from my research, this will nurture and expand also his speech and executive functions (management of emotions, planning, etc).

And what a great book to do this with. The story of this “Pandilla Salvaje” has captured his heart, is teaching us about animals (not an interest), storytelling, emotions, social concepts, new vocabulary and ideas, etc. A request for let’s read another chapter!, a nightly comment of I love this book! are nothing short of a miracle. A miracle still in the making…

Joaquin shows a page from 'La Pandilla Salvaje Forja un Plan'

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