In the 50th episode of Functional Nutrition and Learning for Kids, one of my favorite thought leaders, Soma Mukhopadhyay, talks to us about:

-how learning channels determine teaching

-the 4 goals of RPM – not just information download – but cognition, sensory, tolerance and communication goals.

-the importance of a sensory map when working with a child (as opposed to a label)

If you are interested in helping your child jump start their learning and sensory goals, I highly recommend checking out RPM.


Audio Transcription: 


Hello, hello, and a big welcome to the 50th episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids with special special special guests. Soma Mukhopadhyay, we’re talking all things RPM today. RPM stands for Rapid Prompting Method and is straightforward, but a life-shifting technique that I highly recommend for parents of both unreliable speakers and nonspeakers. As you navigate your way through this learning, I’m sure this podcast will be quite invaluable to you.

Please also check out this website with a free ebook that I’ve prepared for you the website is abit.Ly6learning tips. Six is just the number six not the word and there are no spaces. So let me repeat that speak dot L vi slash six learning tips. And this is for learning strategies that encompass both effective functional nutrition knowledge and educational skills every child can learn and today you’re going to learn that this can be based on their sensory map. And you have learned before through this podcast perhaps that they can learn powered by nutritional status and movement as well.

Onward. I’m so honored to have Soma Mukhopadhyay today with us and so Maddie needs no introduction to 1000s of parents who have used her techniques to achieve education usually age-appropriate and communication through the method that she teaches rpm which stands for Rapid Prompting Method. And I would personally join the 1000s of parents of children with unreliable communication or children that are non-speaking and I would affirm that my life and my son’s life have been transformed because of Soma.

I remember that said my son presented a science project in his fifth grade and his primary acknowledgment at the time was to soma and his words were that she had brought sound to his silent world. from sohmas website, I’d like to read that tell you a little bit about rpm. rpm is a method that empowers a student with the means to express their learning, understanding reasoning, and thoughts. Now the teacher learns how to access the open learning channels and we’ll learn more about this from so mine a bit auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic of the student and adapts the way the lessons are presented accordingly.

RPM is an academic-based method in which the teacher tries to create a teacher-student response, Lu. Sama developed rpm in the process of homeschooling her autistic minimally speaking son, Tito Mukhopadhyay, teaching him how to spell and type on a keyboard. Both Sam and Tito have been featured in a BBC documentary, Tito’s story and Tito’s now a well-renowned poet and author having authored multiple books since this documentary.

They have also been featured on 60 minutes CNN, the HBO documentary called The mother’s courage, and National Geographic Magazine, the Scientific American People Magazine, The New York Times, and the Austin American Statesman. Now you can find out more about rpm at WWW.Halo dashsoma.org I can keep talking about so man, I would have words to fill many, many podcasts. But I would like to focus this short podcast on a few key points that I feel so much need to change the world of teaching and communication. Thank you for coming somebody I’m very grateful.

I want to start off by asking you why RPM works when so many other techniques don’t

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

You know, this is what I found most of the reason people use a lot of emotions in their techniques and emotional energy goes over there, they look at the goal that is in the far like we are going to do this for autism in rpm, we do the immediate goals this person needs this an at that so and so you can say cognitive, like cognitive understanding, we have to make the person cognitively like information goals, we have the cognitive goals be this person needs this scale goal.

Now, this person needs this tolerance goal because we have all the different kinds of tolerances that also work on it. And then what are we going to do with what will that student do with all the information that he just acquired communication home? So because we look at the immediate goals of that student, and we are not looking at, okay, I’m going to show the world I’m going to prove the world and put all the emotional energy towards it. And that the success of one session adds to the success of the whole process in general. Now, as we saw here in rpm we focus on the path is the goal.

The goal is like I can look at a star up out of there but I don’t look at the ditch So I think I feel that I’m going to reach that star. But then that dish is going to be there in front. And I’m not looking at the hurdle, there would be lots of sensory hurdles. So that’s why we don’t really like putting all our energy into that outside looking, we just look at that Swat, I think to add on to the success.


You’re the first person that I have heard who talked started talking about learning channels. And even though people talk about it, you take it very seriously in your lessons. You mean in your website, you mentioned auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile, and what is the role of these learning channels in so is learning possible through any channel traditionally, we just use visual and maybe auditory but is learning possible through any channel.

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

The two primary learning channels are tactile, and I’m sorry, they are auditory and visual, they are the primary learning channel through which we learn information. Now, in rpm information is not the only channel that we are learning not the only goal. We also have sensory goals, we also learn like cacti learning would be how to sit at a chair, how to sit at a chair for a long time, and watch a movie. So that is tactile learning. Also, kinesthetic learning how to walk properly, how many children can walk properly, if you look at children with autism, they are wobbling in space. And so you can say that that is the kinesthetic channel learning. So here is information, yes, information learning is important. But at the same time, the other learning is also important.

That’s why so in, in autistic people, you can say what in any person with a disability, you can say, okay, information learning may be age-appropriate or beyond it. Okay, that’s good. No one is taking away those visuals. Skill, maybe in the working at a two-year-old level Or, and then tack time may be working at a few months level where I can, I can touch that I can sit here but I can’t do that. Right?

It’s not generalizing, kinesthetic may be working at a four-year-old level. So, if you look at the sensory maps of different students, they are so different. And that is why we are here, these learning channels are important otherwise, you see so many people go to college, but then what are they doing without that letter board?

Can someone hold the letter board has nothing? So only when the letter board is happening with selective kinesthetic scale, they are navigating the letter board, take that letter board away, the student is just sitting over there helpless, like a like an infant. So in rpm, we actually assemble everything. And yes, information learning is an important goal. And also the kind of like communication. So many times children communicate, but what kind of communication is becomes relevant?

Communication of the self will never be relevant. If you don’t have the right kind of sensory understanding of your body. So you communication about everything would be there else would be relevant. But how are you feeling or which part of your body hurts, there would be all these kinds of guesses. And they won’t be relevant. That’s why Sensory Learning is as important as the information they’re learning. And so this sensory map of a child is very important.


And is that why you don’t focus on emotions because the child’s knowledge or the child’s communication about themselves may be different?

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

Yeah, you know, sometimes feeling pity for yourself. Yeah, like you get so good at it, that you pray for essentially, if see sensory things over here. And of course, if I’m not sensory Lee come complete, I’m going to feel sorry for myself. I’m going to look at the outside world and I’m going to realize that I’m not functioning that way. So, first you have to overcome like many times people say, you know, we are going to have this integration, if the senses are not integrating with the surroundings, environmental integration is not going to happen.

You just integrate into school and say this is integration No, that child can’t even sit at a table you know, you can say restaurant and eat. But then he says I want integration, how can that be?


Only inclusion in the society’s

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

inclusion in the environment then comes in inclusion. Social inclusion then comes with all these kinds of inclusion. If there is this all sensory gates are all co-closed. What kind of inclusion are you talking about? They have all these blue signals over there and say inclusion is my birthright or something, something they going on around over there, Facebook is not going to happen like that. Right? That’s why the sensory channels are very important.

Primary learning channels, auditory, and tactile, or I’m sorry and visual. And this kit, the secondary learning channels would be tactile and kinesthetic, otherwise, learning is not enough.


Now. So using RPM, you train your practitioners to identify the primary learning channel of the child and use that as a means to give information and then also train the secondary channels to come up to the mark. Am I accurate?

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

Yes, because he RPM, you also have the Sensory Learning Program. It’s not just sitting on information, learning information. cecina navigating that comes great learning facts, that comes quick. So there’s, there’s a marking is going to come anywhere. But other learning, procedure learning, motor learning, are long-term processes, which if you are not doing just navigating the letter vote is not.


Okay, that is a very good lesson for me, because I’m definitely among that subgroup which because my son, his son has more sensory issues, I kind of shy away from that. And coming to something that I wanted to bring up is that you also introduced to me the idea of a performance field, because especially for my son, with visual issues, his performance field is very narrow. And for the longest time, nothing worked, because nobody knew his performance field. And when we came to you, you immediately through your experience isolated his performance field. So can you tell us a little bit about that?

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

Yeah, performance field, we all have the visual field, we have an auditory field, everything. So each child, so you’ll see even an RPM session, if you’re not doing it properly. Like that. So many times people say okay, I’m going to do RPM or whatever you’re calling there are all these like, the copycat systems also processes also came up. So whatever you do, you see that it will work or it will not work. If it is not working. That means us to know that this student what is behavior, behavior is the student is trying to communicate that the student is not sensory.

You like adapting to the way the teacher is teaching or presenting. So when you are presenting a letter board or the choices, if you’re not presenting it at the student’s comfort level, that is the performance field, then it’s not going to happen. So many times people will say, Okay, I want the letter board flat on the table. I want Okay, why don’t you try it? And do it right, I want to don’t, I can watch so many things, but it’s not going to happen.

You have to also what is the roadmap. So in RPN, we have a roadmap. So we start with the student’s performance field. And then we start helping the student to adapt to the new performance feed where the little boat is going to get be kept flat on the table. And then slowly the teacher is going to be enough because all the time teacher doesn’t have to sit close to the student. So slowly the teacher has been so but there has to be a particular plan because there has to be a visual plan auditory plan, as I said, the kinesthetic plan all these plans have to be there individualized for that student only then it’s going to happen and


I think the issue is realized is the key because you’re doing that to every student you’re assessing them independently and I have seen the results of that the fact that in a child who’s unable to spell in any other arena is able to now you know to use the letter board or use whatever it is efficiently because of understanding of the performance field.

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

The problem is people take RPM just as a communication method, and they don’t see the other things that have to be assembled. So many times people think okay, our child is communicating okay, this student has reached his own you can say it has reached his skill ceiling. No, we don’t have any skill ceiling in our


okay, that I feel like that should be like the heading of this podcast, there is no skill ceiling, I like them. And you, you know a little bit of a deviation you focus a lot on context. You’ve already told us a little bit about sensory context but as opposed to information, and you’re one of the few people earlier I was very caught up in okay next level of math, but you are one of the few people that teaches even math based on context. Do you think This is a best practice for most children with autism?

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

I would say for most children, children who are generalized visual, so because we have different kinds of vision, you have a selective vision, generalized vision, global vision. So if a student is selected, selectively visual or a global visual on it, over there, they won’t be able to visually focus or visually attend to a math problem that is, like two stories high, like, like a long algebra factorization, because that needs visual attention, even an HCF and LCM.

If you look at that, they would need it. So a student may have the idea of a report is how to solve it, but in order to solve the visual focus on the visual stamina may not be there. So that is where I would use the more like a concept. So I would say, okay, an event to be used. Wait, we use MCM? So I would say okay, Thomas and Mary, go to the gym. And so, Thomas goes every rain every 14 days, and Mary goes every say 20 days? And so when will they go on wetness day, when will they go next? That is where we need NCM so I would mainly teach them why learning LCM the concepts or the area and not like not just sitting and doing and solving the problem which will be visual stress for the student.


I have learned that through you I remember you told me the last time we met but I’ve also learned that the hard way where my son completely lost interest in math because I was focusing too much on the hard facts and not at all on the context. But yes, thank you for that. So one of my last questions is that when I came with said to you for the first time you are the first person to whom his diagnosis of Down syndrome was irrelevant to your quality of teaching. So have you consciously presumed competence throughout your life? Is it something that you picked up? Or do these labels not matter to you at all?

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

No Labels don’t matter at all, you know, at we all are born with the brain and what the brain is doing and brain is such a secret thing like I can smile and then I can smile but like have a social smile and not listen to the person who is talking at all because my brain is secretly doing something else should they’re talking to me something different see So, so over here, I look at a person through a sensory map.

I don’t look at the like for me label even a person who is talking say verbal student say if we look at a verbal student who is talking what kind of speech is it a steam speech? Is it a road speech? Is it a kind of a request speech? Is it a kind of linear end speech I want this equals I get this like so, is it equality or because you see a lot of variety even with the word verbal children? So what in so bit of open student the formula of RPM is a little different than with a data for normal nonprofits student because with verb a student I would want to maximize the use of the verbal ability of that student right.

I bought so over here, whether it is an I see a Down Syndrome person or I see someone with Angelman syndrome, or I see someone with Williams Syndrome, it doesn’t matter at all I see the sensory map of that student. So essentially map would be okay visually where is he at? Is the generalized global, auto selective auditory, is the generalized global audit area this selective, same with tactile and same with kinesthetic and based on that I try to teach because I want the students do when you’re giving information Mater’s people don’t realize that why the success of RPM happens and by the behaviors start coming down.

That is because I take the students to a kind of thorough information to a nonstate where the brain is working at 14 to 19 cycles per second. Because I don’t want the brain to work at 21 cycles per second. Because the moment you put some emotions in it over here, this it spices up the brain and takes to 21 cycles per second, and then it works at a two. Now I’m talking about cycles per second in based on EEG, like per se now 14 cycles per second is being born. Okay but bold. being bored, when you’re bored, then your brain is at 14 cycles per second, right? Then you are.

Now once you are at 21 cycles per second, it goes to 25 cycles per second, that is a zone of no return for an autistic person. So that’s why I try to use this kind of information. That’s why RPM is mainly academic-based. Every day I learn something, I get something to think something more to think about.

When I’m getting something more to think about, then my brain is not doing the same process of I taught this years ago, and then I’m thinking the same thing again and again. And now I don’t want to think but the same process thoughts are coming to me because no one taught me and educated me in history, and geography, that’s why I try to keep academic instructional sessions in an RPM session. Okay,


What that is really fascinating about the cycles per second, I know, You’ve told me this once before, and I have forgotten that’s very fascinating, too. Thank you so much to wrap up, are there if there three pieces of advice you could give parents of children with any disability who are having specific learning disabilities? Everybody has told them, You can’t learn whatever? What would it be?

Soma Mukhopadhyay:

You know, for me, since I’m not a very emotional person, I’m a stoic person, I don’t even know why people have to get bothered when someone says this person can’t learn. Right? Visit, see if I, if I know myself if I’m confident about myself and my child, it shouldn’t even matter to a person like that. See, I’ll tell that try and grow a thick skin.

It doesn’t matter at all, whether a person believes you or not, you are going to spend a whole bunch of energy trying to make a school system. believe in you, like I see a school system or something, imagine a car account is going to run only when its engine is running. But a school system if you are trying to push it in a school system, or trying to push it to a person who doesn’t want to believe his own engine is not working and you are like pushing a car over here. It won’t go like that properly if you are pushing a car. So don’t push your belief in that person has the right to not believe your child.

If someone doesn’t believe my child, I get to go sit there, you have your right not to believe in my child, I have the right to believe. And so, what happens is that so much of emotional energy goes away in trying to make people believe. And then so you will see some on therapists, okay, they are going to pick on your energy, and they want your business, they want you to love them, they are going to say you know, I always knew he is smart, they are going to talk for you. Okay, whether they believe it or not, you know that they want they mean business and more they can key.

The parents were happy by saying See, I’ve seen two sides of it. People not believe and some people hype out the belief so much that it’s sort of seems a little superficial. We believe in your child, I am a therapist I am your spokesperson of you. But you know, in the long run, they’re trying to make their business.

I’ve seen two sides of it. So as a parent, you are going to that’s why I talk about parent training to these COVID all the therapists they shut the door. But because parents knew what to do with RPM, they steer their children through this COVID.

Schools were closed. So don’t depend upon therapies and all those things don’t depend upon who is going to believe your child or not. You just add on with the four goals of RPM, the cognitive goal, the skin goal, tolerance, goal, and communication. And you’ll see that you add on to it tomorrow will be better, then next day will be better. And that’s in the end. You see, it’s all better.


Thank you. Thank you so much. And I’m honored that your podcast is going to be the 50th episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’ve been excited for this episode for a long, long time. I hope this enables you in your journey with your child in the world of presuming competence and learning. And don’t forget to click on bit.ly/6learningtipswithsuccess the number six for a free ebook That’s big dot L ly/six learning tips.

This free eBook is my thanks to all of you for enabling me to complete 50 episodes now on This side of the podcast, we are Vaish Sarathy. That’s me, nutritional practitioner and science educator, your host, and Maitri Gosh with the music. Thank you and see you next Friday.