Saturday, 21 January 2017

'Hanging out' and using non-verbal communication to facilitate emotional connection

I wrote my first blogpost about working with Saoirse at Bright Futures School here.

In this current blogpost, I'm sharing some footage of a session that Alex did with Saoirse.  On the day this was filmed, Saoirse came into school already dysregulated, and was quite difficult to engage in her earlier sessions.

Alex nails it here by taking all demands off Saoirse and just 'hanging out' with her in a guiding-friendly way.  She lets Saoirse choose her activity and finds a way to introduce co-regulation into the activity.

In the footage analysis below, Alex is in black and Sharon (our external RDI Consultant, who moderates and guides our practice) is in blue.

0.02 – prosody used to try to gain attention 

0.09 – “says flap” – something that S and I have done in the past when I tickle her (the tickly bird is coming)

0.11 – very brief glance as S takes the toy off me 

0.18 – looks to me and makes a “eee” sound – I don’t know whether S has remembered our tickle game or if she is just making noises

0.22 – emotion sharing with me? or simply inviting interaction from you because you are so quiet??

0.27 – S makes a verbal rhythm

0.29 – I repeat

0.30 – another glance in my direction

0.31 – S puts the toy down and it is quite loud and she references me

0.32 – I respond with facial expression

0.33 – S (I think) acknowledges this and says “ooo” which I repeat this looks really good, inviting the co-reg of 'you & me'

0.34 – S repeats pattern and looks to me again as it makes a noise

0.35 – as it’s the dragonfly again I say “flap”

0.37 – S moves the cat and I say “meow” – still trying to see if I’m allowed to join in

S then moves each toy again and I make the noise of each animal that is moved – S smiles at this but no referencing or emotion-sharing with me 

0.46 – S places a penguin – I have no idea what noise penguins make?

0.49 – S moves the penguin again

0.50 – more animal moves again so I repeat the noises this is a co-reg pattern with each of you having a role to play

0.56 – the penguin again – so I say “penguin”

0.57 – I get a reference – which makes me laugh as it’s as if S is saying – “come on”

1.01 – it did look for a moment that this amused? agree.

Alex what is great here is you are comfortable doing what seems like nothing with Saoirse, when in actual fact you are both interacting loads!  Just being happy in one another's company without a specific goal of getting something completed/done by the child is very hard for a lot of people to do.

About 5 minutes later, Saoirse copied what Alex started above, clearly seeking to initiate further experience- and emotion-sharing:

0.04 – S makes the noise “flap” as she puts the dragonfly into the house – I didn’t know if she was inviting me to do what I did previously? maybe

0.05 – I repeat and add gesture

0.08 – attempting engagement through prosody again

0.12 – my new ‘penguin’ noise

0.15 – “meow” – I am going somewhere with this – in my head – I was wondering if S would reference me if she later moved the animals and I didn’t say anything – to see if she was listening and enjoying the ‘involvement’ 

As S starts to remove the animals I again make the noises

0.22 – S emotion shares with me around the “flap” – again I think this is due to the tickly game we play 

0.23 – I add the tickle game gesture 

0.24 – really smiling – I think it is again about the tickle 

0.27 – this time as S places her animal she does look to me   Isn't that lovely... a real connection of 'if I do this, then you will do that'

0.29 – S doesn’t place an animal but references me and touches another one – I did not realise this initially - it's a JND!! (small variation) to the pattern.

0.31 – I catch on… “flap”

0.35 – S touches another animal and I make the noise – I do this for each animal in turn – no emotion sharing or referencing it all speeds up here & becomes a little more task focused from Saoirse which probably explains the lack of emotion-sharing and referencing.  

0.40 – I stop the noise as S touches to see if I do get the reference… no! that's exactly what I would do.... interesting, I wonder if that would still be the case on a good day??

0.45 – S slumps back in her chair – I do not know if this is because I didn’t ‘play’??? S then leaves the game herself, sits for a while before moving away  

Okay so this sounds like Saoirse simply doesn't know how to fix the co-reg breakdown so retreats.  If doing this again it might be worth playing with it a little more.... so instead of not giving a sound for any of the animals maybe add the silence for some & noise for others, so there is still a level of unpredictability re how you will respond, but not total withdrawal on your part because you aren't getting the social referencing

And Sharon's final comments:

I believe this is exactly the type of interaction that Saoirse needs, tiny baby steps - literally - to encourage her to be motivated to interact with another.  She needs to learn to trust in herself & in others before she will be able to develop her emotional interaction further. 
Keep on doing what you are doing would be my advice.  And do show these clips to others.  I did a similar thing with animals & sounds when I was at BF & started to get a reaction, nothing like what you got here.  But it was a way in, a way of making me be there not just the toys.
At the moment, Saoirse hasn't got the 'why bother' of interaction.  It hasn't clicked for her that other people can be fun and exciting, or that the things we can do together can make us feel good about ourselves.  It's early days and we are still building up trust with her.

Given that, I think you'll agree that the above engagement that Alex facilitated is excellent work :)  

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.