Today, I am happy to present a guest post from Faith, the mother of my client, Luke. Luke is a delightful, smiley, almost 8 year old who started RPM with me on April 2, 2014. Luke is nonspeaking but showing off just how verbal he is on the letter board every week! He is answering questions, defining words, making predictions and is beginning to write in sentences. Yesterday, during a lesson about coins and the US Mint, Luke impressed his mother and me by naming all the coins and then adding various coin amounts. (I did not name any of the coins or state their worth before showing them to Luke!). Surprises like this happen in almost every RPM session with my kids. Over Spring Break, a different kind of RPM surprise unfolded that Faith has agreed to share with us today! ~ Elizabeth
Luke is 7 years old and has been doing RPM for a little over a month….here’s an early glimpse of the power of RPM
Luke’s 5-year old brother, Eli attended two of Luke’s RPM sessions during spring break—we decided upon a “stay-cation” this year to catch up and relax. Eli played in the next room for most of both sessions, sometimes reading on some chairs, but we left the door open. During this time, his curiosity got the best of him and he came into the room a few times to see what was going on. Luke and Elizabeth were doing a lesson on Washington DC. Elizabeth asked Luke a question about the National Mall, which Eli thought was great fun, and he decided he really wanted to help Luke.
After the session, we stayed for a few minutes to meet Ben and his mom, Bertra. While I was talking to Bertra, Eli and Luke played a little game of chasing and tickling around the office, which Luke thoroughly enjoyed. Bertra commented on how well they played together and I replied that this was a new thing for the two of them – while they occasionally played together, we most often have to facilitate an activity. I realized in that moment that I had never really seen them play like this before – more than a few minutes and real engagement from Luke.
During the week, listening to Eli talk about how much he wanted to go back to “Elizabeth’s” and spell with Luke, I reflected on the fact that Eli now seemed fascinated with Luke being able to spell, and what that might also mean for his communication with his brother. He occasionally comments and is aware that “Luke is not able to talk” (Eli’s words). We know he’s working on processing that in his 5-year old brain and we talk about it occasionally to help him work through it.
Those two RPM sessions that week (only Luke’s 3rd and 4th sessions) demonstrated that all of this is more than just about Luke – it’s a family journey. For Luke and Eli – their bond is stronger and their relationship is growing because Eli is able to participate in Luke’s development and appreciate that Luke is capable of communicating – and on a level that Eli finds fascinating. Bertra’s comment and observation also allowed me to step back and take a few seconds to reflect on the beauty of the moment – something about hearing it from someone else makes it even more powerful and validating. Elizabeth’s awareness (she could have shushed Eli out of the room when he wanted to come in, and gotten upset by hearing Eli out chasing Luke around the space – but she didn’t) and silent invitation to allow Eli to observe also made it possible for Luke and Eli to take their next step together as brothers and, just as importantly, have some fun at the same time.
It was an unexpected gift we got that day and one that I will never forget. Luke and Eli’s laughter and pure joy as they played together is a gift that is beyond words. Thank you RPM and Thank you Elizabeth for making this possible!