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

Starting to figure the APD puzzle

From receiving auditory input to storing information in long term memory, our brains must decode and process such information. When I started using RPM elements while reading stories to Joaquin, I was slowing down the process helping him decode the unfamiliar information and reason through it. This allowed such information to move to his long term memory where he started accumulating a bank of knowledge that he now uses on his own to process all the new information coming from the ongoing story. I have to do very little interpreting for him now; he has become self-reliant with that subject and the concepts he’s learned within that story.

It’s become apparent over the last weeks that Joaquin’s auditory skills (ultimately listening comprehension and memory) function very well when he’s dealing with familiar concepts and vocabulary. It is when dealing with unfamiliar subjects that his processing breaks down and can’t catch up (just like Lenae Crandall wisely observed in just two RPM sessions with him). This may be the reason why he’s highly functional in one on one conversations, but can’t always follow 3-way exchanges: As soon as the other people move out of the familiar subject, he has trouble following and exhausted stops listening altogether.

Now, with the help and expertise of Dr. Cheri Florance (author of “Maverick Mind” and a brain scientist who successfully solved the puzzle of her highly-visual and poorly-verbal son), I’m starting to look in a systematic way for the exact places where Joaquin’s auditory processing is breaking down when confronted with unfamiliar input. This is so very exciting! We may finally be onto something.

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Note to self: For this reason, and while we heal those weaknesses in the auditory / verbal processing system, it is important to continuously expose Joaquin to new subjects, concepts, and vocabulary. I don’t need to agonize planning RPM lessons (something so involved, I had to quit very quickly). I can just read or watch something with him every day using the same method I’ve used so far to help him decode and file the information, relating it to other knowledge, building his library of categories of concepts. This is what Team Joaquin and I did in the last days of our Son-Rise program. This is pretty much what I’ve been doing with him since we started having conversations in our loving, pressure-free, self-paced, real-life learning space.

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