Rapid prompting method
|Putting the psycho in|
|Men who stare at goats|
|By the powers of tinfoil|
The rapid prompting method (RPM) is a pseudo-scientific, utterly debunked method that purports to help non-communicative autistic, blind, deaf, Down Syndrome and other disabled individuals to communicate. The method involves repeatedly asking questions to the
victim test subject that she/he can answer by pointing, writing or typing with the help of a facilitator. It has been characterised as a rebranded form of facilitated communication. As with FC, there is no scientific evidence to support the method and practitioners refuse to let scientists study it.
Soma Mukhopādhyāy, mother to an autistic son, is commonly credited as the creator of RPM. An immigrant from India, she had already captured
amerikanski international attention when she came to the USA in 2001, in the wake of a fellowship from the Cure Autism Now Foundation (which merged in 2007 with Autism Speaks). In 2005, Helping Autism Through Learning and Outreach (HALO) started helping her further spread her (perhaps initially well-meaning, but ultimately harmful) beliefs, which are the self-admitted result of postulation rather than research. She has not been publicity-shy, which has both helped her spread her nonsense and bring on legitimate, and much-needed scientific criticism.
How it (doesn't) work
A non-verbal person is asked to point at a letter board that is being moved by
an automated device incapable of inducing suggestion a facilitator, and thereby spell out words. Of course, the facilitator isn't prompting the individual to point at particular letters/words, and it's clear that the test subject's agency is shining through, even in cases where she/he responds in a language that she/he has never been exposed to, but the "facilitator" has.
Risks and harm
As with FC, RPM can be actually harmful to the individuals who find themselves unfortunate enough to be subjected to it. While proponents of RPM argue that scientific testing would be "stimatizing" and "harmful" to
themselves the individuals they purport to help, investigators rightly point out that disabled individuals are being manipulated and robbed of their agency. Furthermore, it gives parents and guardians a sense of false hope.
Evidence for RPM