Opening like a flower

These were the words that one teacher used today as she watched a 13 minute interaction with one child who had previously shown no interest in initiating interaction.  Last week I recommended to the staff team that they use sensitive touch in support of their intensive interaction practice.  The reason for this strategy was that staff were tending to keep their distance when trying to interact with the child for fear of making him feel anxious.  The result of this approach was that the child simply did not notice that the staff were there for him.  We thought a little about how his communication development compared with that of a typical child and decided that his communication skills were at the level of a child 6 to 12 months in age.  We talked about the importance of sensitive touch for communication development with a child of this early age and concluded that it made sense to intentionally apply this to the child in question.
Over the course of the week the staff managed to engage the child in many interactions and found that running their hand up his back gently soothed his anxiety if he became unhappy.  Today one teacher managed to sustain a 13 minute interaction by developing this ‘theme’ after which the child initiated a social interaction with the teacher for the first time.  This felt like a great success for all concerned and gave the staff confidence in the approach.

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