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Everything You Think You Know About Autism Is Wrong

Soma was right-- she could do for Ido what she had done for her son. Although Ido describes vividly the vigorous fight he initially put up when yet another expert came into his life, he eventually realized that Soma was his salvation. Soma uses a very graduated process that in some ways echoed the same drills Ido had done with other experts. This similarity to other training explains why Ido was initially quite hostile to Soma, for he saw her as another in a long line of jailers.

What made Soma different from all the other experts and teachers was that she acknowledged Ido's intelligence from the start. While the other teachers forced him to engage in what he describes as endless, mind-numbing and demeaning repetitions of the alphabet or single-digit addition, Soma plunged into grade-level lessons in science, math, and literature. Also unlike the other "experts" who gave him constant food rewards, as if he were a dog, Soma saw learning as the reward and treated Ido like a real student, with a real brain.

Finally, Soma's core method (called Rapid Prompting Method or RPM) moved quickly enough that it prevented Ido from falling into his stims (the repetitive flapping movements that so many autistic children use) that had constantly interrupted his own focus. Soma's training was laborious, but within months Ido had mastered the focus and motor control he needed to interact with the outside world.

Once Soma enabled Ido to use the letter board, he took off. Although very shy (something he talks about movingly in his book), Ido started connecting with the outer world. It's a joy to read his trenchant observations about autism experts (some open-minded, and some remarkably stubborn), ordinary educators, the other autistic children in his world, his parents, and his friends and family.