Sunday 23 October 2016

Using non-verbal communication, pausing & pacing to seek & share emotional reactions

Here I am working with Harry, age 13, who has a great sense of humour and is really fun to work with.  I am supporting Harry to share his emotional reaction and seek my emotional reaction to things that happen naturally during our interaction.  To do this, I am slowing my pace, making judicious use of pausing and using non-verbal communication to increase Harry's opportunities to seek and share emotional reactions.

Why is this important?  Another person's emotional reaction tells us how they feel and what they are thinking about something.  We can then use this information to help us to adapt what we are doing to: keep the interaction on track; get it back on track; improve what we are doing together; clarify misunderstandings; celebrate our successes; have fun.  Another's emotional reactions would also trigger us to be wary or confident in any given scenario as well as motivating us just to share a common experience for the purpose of mutual enjoyment. Those are just some examples.

My analysis is in black and Sharon's comments are in blue.  Sharon is the external RDI Consultant who works with us at Bright Futures School.

Clip 1 - I set out our objective of making the card

Off camera - Harry shares something with me about a meme and we laugh about it.

Clip 2 - I finish setting out the framework and then model using just a little glue. You social reference Harry here too as you show him, seeking his response - 'is it good enough?'  He responds with a thumbs up. 

Clip 3 - I non-verbally show Harry where on the page I am going to put the head. I finish my turn and he takes his.  I am including Harry in my thinking & decision making even though he is doing nothing more than watching.

He uses gesture to let me know he needs more glue. I use gesture to confirm. Very nicely done, you are having a great non-verbal conversation.   I make a joke of the glue tube noises in order to 'spice it up' a bit and get some emotion-sharing going sharing and seeking emotional reactions - great freeze frame 1:53.  I use NVC to remind Harry that we only need a little glue. This comes across as sharing your thinking rather than instructing Harry to do anything. 

Harry starts to try to tell me something and references for my reaction. I use the reference to remind him of our no talking challenge and reinforce with a larger scaffold of 'we can talk after' so that he knows he will get a chance to tell me.

Clip 4 - I verbally spotlight the care he is taking.  I use words because this is an important spotlight (as he can be slapdash with crafts) and there is no way really to tell him that non-verbally.  Harry uses non-verbal communication (NVC) to remind me not to talk :) ha ha!  I try to give NVC feedback on the care he is taking.  As he picks up the head to place it, I scaffold by showing him with my card, and then on his card, where to place the head. I don't think he needed this level of scaffolding, the showing of yours yes, but the pointing out no, as I think he already knew what he was going to do???.  I use prosody to feed back on his good placing.

Clip 5 - Harry checks in to see my emotional reaction to his efforts I would recommend waiting for his shift of gaze before you give your feedback on his placing. I do a thumbs up. I model that we will be doing the ears next. He is yawning and I use NVC to share around that. He smiles.  I can't remember where I read this as it was a long time ago but yawning can actually be a sign of feeling relaxed and competent & he certainly looks this way to me.

Clip 6 - Harry glues really carefully. I use prosody ('ooooh') to spotlight this. I scaffold for Harry where to place the ear by showing him on my card great so you realised that the scaffolding was too high previously & lower it here, good stuff, which he uses by glancing at it twice.  When he has finished, he references to check in with me that his placing is right. I use prosody and gesture (nod) to affirm this.  Zoe your pausing & pacing are spot on here.  You would never think this is a child that can be slapdash here would you!

Clip 7 - Harry points to the eyes, non-verbally suggesting what’s next.  I pick up the eye patch and look to him for his affirmation. Social referencing Harry for his thoughts. He nods. I use NVC to build anticipation around the farty squeeze noise and we emotion share around some of the squeezing noises.  When placing the patch, I hover it over the head to engage Harry about whereabouts it should go. He references around this. 

Clip 8 - Harry drops some glue.  I see this as a challenge for him to resolve and take responsibility for. Great stopping yourself from jumping in there! I use prosody to spotlight the challenge. He is concentrating, so I wait. When he's finished, he references to check in and I do a thumbs up, then take the opportunity to use NVC to spotlight the spill again. I look confused, which gives Harry the chance to think about how to resolve it. He gets kitchen roll and I spotlight this good idea with prosody and then a thumbs up when he references. Great stuff, he certainly looks pleased with himself!

Clip 9 - I place 4 eyes on the dogs head as a way to give Harry an opportunity to problem solve.  We have a non-verbal 'conversation' about whether 4 eyes is right and he takes 2 off. First time I've ever seen someone make an X when it's wrong.

Clip 10 - I use prosody (an intake of breath) to spotlight that Harry may have too much glue on the stick. He references and resolves this by moving the stick over to the saucer. And this is his decision, he isn't being told what & how - a great example of you move away from 'getting' to 'inviting'.

Clip 11 - I use a verbal 'pointy' as its difficult to explain with NVC that the pointy bit goes upwards (the point is hard to see).  Harry places the tongue and celebrates with a 'we did it!' – a lovely celebration of our competence.

Where to: Harry did really well with using NVC & this was a great way for the pair of you to converse, so much more interaction taking place.  Think more use of NVC can only be beneficial for him as – with the pausing and pacing - it helps to facilitate the seeking and sharing of emotional reactions.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Welcome, Saoirse :)

If anyone follows the Bright Futures School updates on facebook, you’ll know that a family has recently moved from Ireland to Oldham so that they could try to get a place at our school for their daughter, Saoirse (pronounced Seer-sha). 

The family took the plunge and moved and we worked together on the information that needed to be submitted for the EHC needs assessment request.  It was agreed by our local SEN Team and panel that Saoirse could be placed at Bright Futures School whilst the EHC needs assessment took place and Saoirse started with us in May 2016.

It’s always a bit hair-raising when a new pupil starts because although you’ve read all the paperwork and maybe even seen video footage of the pupil, you never know for sure whether it’s going to work.  Factor into the equation that this family had moved from another country for a place at our school and…….gulp……no pressure!!

Saoirse is a lovely, bright little girl with masses of potential.  We all love her to bits. She and Lucy are developing a friendship – it is beautiful to watch it unfold as each of the girls takes steps forward in their development.

We have made the decision, as we did with Lucy, to work exclusively on guiding with Saoirse, so she is in her own room doing different guiding activities with a series of different staff.  The objective is to use the guiding framework to support Saoirse to step into her co-regulatory role in a turn-taking pattern.

The first clip is from one of Jo’s initial sessions with Saoirse: they are taking turns to ‘fish’ in early July 2016.

Saoirse knows the concept of turn-taking but struggles to allow Jo to have her turn.  Jo has to control the equipment in order to help Saoirse competently take turns: at different points, Jo moves the fishy board away or puts her hand over it so that the turn-taking pattern isn’t broken.  She also has to verbally set limits when Saoirse tries to go out of turn (not taking on board her communication partner’s needs) by grabbing the fishing rod when it’s Jo’s turn.

An example is at 2.08 when Jo tells Saoirse that it’s her (Jo’s) turn. Saoirse says ‘noooooo’ and Jo has to repeat the framework ‘my turn and then your turn’.  Saoirse then places the rod out of Jo’s reach on the floor and leaves her seat.  Jo waits and after Saoirse has picked up the rod, she holds out her hand for it.  Saoirse makes the decision to come back into the framework and step into her role by giving Jo the rod.  As Jo takes her turn, Saoirse struggles again with not being on her own agenda and reaches for the line.  Jo has to place the line in her hand to show non-verbally that it’s still her turn.  So at this time, Saoirse is experiencing quite a lot of difficulty co-regulating with Jo.

We move now to a clip of me with Saoirse from 22.9.16, some 3 months after the above clip. 

Staff have been working hard on basic turn-taking and you can see that Saoirse is now much improved at stepping into her co-regulatory role (yay!). In this clip, I’ve been tasked by Sharon, our external RDI guru to try to focus on using the ‘sender/receiver’ role set as well as facilitating more experience and emotion-sharing, now that basic turn-taking is established.

My analysis is in black and Sharon’s feedback is in blue.

Prior to this activity, we have been rolling playdough.  Saoirse let me know she’d had enough after about 10 minutes, when she moved away from the table.  I took this as my cue to change the activity, as follows:

Clip 1 - When I state what we're going to make, this seems to motivate Saoirse to re-engage and she returns to the table. As she sits down, I set limits around eating the choc as I think she will struggle not to eat it.  I tell her and show her that there is some that we can eat when we've finished. She repeats 'finished' as if accepting this (and using it to regulate?)

I model breaking up the choc but soon see that this is too hard for her so I change to sender/receiver again, break the choc into single pieces myself and pass the pieces to her to place in the bowl.  Once we have established the pattern, (1:10ish) I pause for her to reference before I pass the choc great stuff.  I continue to do this and there is some lovely referencing :):)  I pull away when she goes to snatch and she continues to reference me and seems to smile....? I'm not sure that the beginning of this isn't more around learned behaviour but as you progress I do think it looks more like social referencing 'are you ready / do you have more?' 

We do more of this pattern and I introduce a chant I think this really helps Saoirse & she seems to be joining in too!  Just has more of a 'we' feel around it.  When we finish, I say we can eat our choc.  She seems not to understand as she moves her hand towards the bowl so I model eating and she eats her choc.

She shares quite a lot of gaze whilst we are eating our choc, which is lovely it sure is, no goals, no aims just sharing the experience.  I say we need to go to the kitchen to melt the choc and she says 'kitchen’ (she is saying a lot more words throughout the school day). We go to the kitchen.  Initially Saoirse seems to react negatively to you saying that 'we can't eat anymore' but then regulates around the need to go to the kitchen, maybe mentioning again the making of the rice cakes helps here too?!?!?.

Clip 2 - I set up for the next role set. I model scooping and we do this. Then I pour.  We have a spill and tidy up. I spotlight Saoirse's good idea re tidying. She gets hold of the bowl so I wait until I see an opportunity to move the bowl away When Saoirse was scooping from the bowl into the cup... I'm not sure she just wasn't a little muddled as to what was happening next, as she quickly adapts. She holds the cup and I pour. Then I reverse the roles. I spotlight Saoirse's helpfulness and then wait until she has finished with the rice crispies on the table.  I pour from cup to bowl and invite Saoirse to pour from jug to cup. I spotlight my change in pouring (JND of height) and say that it’s raining rice crispies.  Saoirse smiles and repeats 'raining' with lovely dynamic gaze. Nice experience sharing.

Saoirse then gets up and is distracted.  I wait. She pours and moves away again. She starts to spin herself.  I wait. When she stops and references, I pour. ok

Off camera - we get the choc.

Clip 3 - I pour the choc in because it’s a bit too hot to give her a role here.  I set limits around licking the spoon at the end (authentic reason = germs).  When she goes to lick, I move the spoon back and say 'mmmm hmmm'.  I spotlight her helpfulness.  I have to keep setting limits around the licking but she manages to stay within them - major progress :):) as she has struggled with this a lot previously. So sweet, she is almost drooling but does well to wait.

Clip 4 - I acknowledge that it’s hard to wait to lick.  Zoe I'm wondering if it would help Saoirse's understanding of 'all done / ready' if you showed her the bowl & stated something along the lines of 'all mixed together now', so she can physically see the difference???
When I am ready, I offer the spoon to Saoirse. I say 'ready' and she says 'ready' and references. I emotion-share my excitement and anticipation.  We lick and I share my thoughts about the choc.  She references quite a lot.  I continue to share my feelings about our mixture.  I spotlight that she has got some rice crispies left and she responds by eating them. Agree again some lovely moments in this tiny piece including Saoirse's yummy noises.

I loved this session. And me....  moving in the right direction!

Where to: Sender/receiver (our turn-taking role set) is working really well - think it's a case of using this in as many different scenarios as possible, so Saoirse continues to grow in her ability to turn take.  She is so much calmer here.

Our underlying aim is to continue to grow the emotional connection & experience sharing across interactions - well on track!

The difference 3 months of guiding makes :)