Read About Others!
8 years old, 2nd Grade
Emma is an engaging young lady who attends school in Southern California. She has been
diagnosed with autism and is unable to speak, however in recent years Emma learned how to
communicate and learn from Soma Mukhopadhyay, Educational Director of HALO (Helping
Autism through Learning and Outreach). Emma learned to point to letters and numbers on a
Letterboard to spell words and sentences, and also to solve mathematical problems. She
worked with Soma regularly when she resided in Los Angeles, CA and she continues to work
with her by commuting every six weeks to her new clinic in Austin, Texas.
Most recently, Emma's IEP Team had placed her in a 2nd Grade classroom for students with
language delay. She had an individual aide to help her communicate and complete assignments
using her Basic-QWERTY format Letterboard. It soon became apparent that Emma was
performing well beyond the other students in her class. Therefore, Karen decided to ask the
principal if Emma could be included in a general eduction 2nd Grade classroom. Cautious, the
principal agreed to allow Emma and her aide to attend the requested class for an hour each day,
to see how she did in the new setting, and to have the IEP Team meet after a trial period to
discuss the matter further.
Thankfully, the general education teacher proved to be very supportive and interested in
making the situation work for Emma, and the students in the class were interested and kind to
her, as well. Emma loved her new teacher and the children in her class. As a result, not only did
she quickly adapt to her new surroundings, she began making friends and was soon
completing class assignments along with her classmates.
Therefore, at the follow-up meeting Emma's IEP Team decided that she would be fully enrolled
in the general education 2nd Grade class with the support of her individual aide. Her parents
arranged for a reduced school day, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in order for Emma to have time
to attend her Speech and Occupational Therapy in the afternoon. Emma also works at home
each day using Soma's Rapid Prompting Method to improve on her communication skills. At
present, Emma is learning to type on an Alphasmart augmentative communication device and
plans to transition to a laptop computer with a voice output program.
As is often the case, maintaining an individual aide who is capable of supporting Emma so that
she continues to move forward was at the forefront of her parents' concerns. Being able to
communicate what she knew was crucial to Emma's success in the classroom. Therefore, when
the school district moved to replace Emma's aides with their own personnel, Karen and Joe
went all the way to fair hearing in order to keep the support they knew Emma needed. The
judgement allowed them to keep the therapists whom they, themselves had hired and trained in
the Rapid Prompting Method, who had attended many of Emma's sessions with Soma, and who
had an existing relationship and rapport with her. The cooperation and efforts of Emma's
parents, her teachers, and her aides have enabled Emma to succeed in school, alongside her
peers, beyond their wildest dreams!
Also See: Success Stories - Emma at www.halo-soma.org/community_stories