Rapid Prompting Method is teaching kids to communicate

RPM is a technique that allows kids with autism to point at letters in order to express their wants and needs.


Jordan Mayo

Russ Davie, the main Developmental Learning Program teacher, stands outside the E Building at Highland High School.

Hannah Allen, Jordan Mayo, and Ashlee Smith

Nowadays people are finding new ways for nonverbal kids to communicate. A technique used to help such kids is the Rapid Prompting Method.

RPM is a technique that allows kids with autism to point at letters in order to express their wants and needs. This is often a disputed technique because some experts say that it is not the children with autism actually relaying their thoughts, but their helpers explaining for them.

However, this accusation is not correct. Someone who helped give us accurate information is Russ Davie. He is a staff member at Highland that works with the Developmental Learning Program, and he often works with kids who have autism.

When asked about RPM in general, he said that it is a foundation that allows those with nonverbal autism to identify letters and connect pictures to text. We then asked him about his thoughts on the idea that the kids aren’t actually expressing their own ideas.

“All special ed is driven…then later driven out.” He also explained that it does not matter if it is special ed or normal teaching when it comes to this because teachers are there to guide students along the way.

Even though teachers help out in the beginning, that does not mean that they are speaking for them the entire time. He described how they’ll eventually grow out of it, and that the student will be able to communicate properly on their own.

We also found out how the school helps these students for the future. The main thing that the school mostly focuses on is social and communication teaching. This can help them know how to interact with others and also teach them coping mechanisms. Overall, they’re preparing the students for the 18-21 program, which helps them know how to properly act and communicate as an adult.

He wanted to mention that it’s okay to be autistic. The only difference between us and them is that they have a harder time communicating their thoughts. They have feelings, they want to make friends, and they especially want to be treated like everyone else. They’re able to think on their own, all they need help with is expressing themselves. A great way to start is with RPM.