Ben was born and developing normally until around 2.5 years old, when he developed Regressive Autism.
As a toddler, Ben’s speech was considered to be very advanced. He would often make analogy and verbalize basic math.
However, as his speech regressed, he soon was only able to say as much as, “Bye-Bye” to his family. Since Ben was labeled, “Non-Verbal,” had difficulty controlling his body movements, and was unable to write, he was diagnosed as being, “severely autistic and intellectually disabled.” Much of Ben’s formal academics were then replaced with learning varying life skills and menial job training.
However, at age 14, Ben began therapy in the Rapid Prompt Method (RPM). This is an amazing intervention therapy developed to assist (often non-speaking) children or students with autism or other disabilities to communicate through pointing, typing or writing. In other words, it helps those without the motor planning skills to speak or write to be able to still communicate by pointing to letters on a board.
When a non-speaking person begins therapy in RPM, they start by using a stencil board and pointing to letters via the stencil. Over time, the idea is to progress from using a stencil board, to a laminate board, and eventually moving on to an iPad or another type of tablet to communicate. The trajectory of success for each person is different and each step is a giant success.
Since Ben started RPM therapy he has become quite adept at using the stencil board, allowing him to truly express his complex thoughts and feelings with those around him!
When Ben comes to visit Dr. Rishita, we are able to communicate with each other by using his stencil board. As Ben became more proficient, he was eager to express his feelings towards his longtime friend and Dentist, spelling out “D-r-R-i-s-h-i-t-a-i-s-s-o-v-e-r-y-n-i-c-e-a-n-d-c-o-m-m-i-t-t-e-d-I-r-e-a-l-l-y-a-p-p-r-e-c-i-a-t-e-h-e-r-p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e-a-n-d-k-i-n-d-n-e-s-s-t-o-m-e.”
Using this great form of communication allows Dr. Rishita, the team, and Ben to share many laughs and learn so much from one another.
We want to share Ben’s amazing story and to raise awareness of those like him. Ben has a Facebook Page dedicated to getting his voice heard. He hopes to help others better understand people varying abilities. Ben hopes to inspire others like him to share their own voice!
Follow Ben by going to his Facebookpage, Ben B. – My Own Words: Reflections of a Non-Speaking Autistic.