Sensory and Communication Challenges
Q&A Session 6 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program
Topic: Sensory and Communication Challenges
Q: Hello my dearest Bryn,
I am so excited to be able to talk to you in this way. I hope to be coming up for an Outreach real soon so we can spend more time together. You have always been such a dear friend and support to me.
Gideon will be 17 soon. Wow! We have been working with him with so much love for so many years. How he has grown and blossomed and how, too have the happiest mom and wife and me, learning and growing more and more with each new challenge. Amazing! Gideon’s program has been the best. Now that we have been working in the playroom for so many years, I don’t know how to help Gideon start coping with the real world. I am trying recreational activities, but I feel that nothing compares to our attitude and our love and acceptance. I know that most of your work is with younger kids and in the playroom only, but I am hoping for help with the transition out of the playroom for a child like Gideon who still has sensory and communication challenges after eight intensive years in the room.
Can’t wait to hear from you, Bryn. My love to the family.
A: Dearest Toby,
As I write this, I can see your face, and Gideon’s in my mind. I can recall times at your home, times that you have been here – all the times that we have shared over these wonderful years through your journey with Gideon. As you read the following, know that I hold you in a special place, as do so many of us here, and think of you with great love and caring.
The idea of helping Gideon in this type of transition is very exciting! I know with all the work you have done over the years on your attitude that you will explore yourself and focus on making each opportunity with him as exciting and easy as possible, so let’s move right into concrete ideas. I am not sure of what you have already tried, so I will just give you numerous suggestions at this time:
I would look in local papers etc, to explore possible activities you can take him to. You could explore both structured activities (i.e. swimming lessons with individual teacher, or group lessons) or less structured as well (go and view ice sculptures, a community picnic etc). In each area, I would first “act out” the situation at home – help him to become familiar with how you imagine the event will go. Practice showing him responses to different items or social stimuli that may occur – and then give it a try! Important to see, if he has trouble with a given activity, that doesn’t mean he can’t do it, but only perhaps that he needs more help to prepare in advance and then you could try again.
You might also think about, really specifically, which parts of “the world” do you want to introduce him to? In what areas would you like him to grow? This will then help you have a clearer intention about what to prepare him for and involve him in. For example: With my daughter Jade, (As you know, we have been running a Son-Rise Program for her for 2.5 years) we wanted to begin to teach her about greeting people. So, we began to introduce and work on, in the playroom, games which involved greeting people. Looking at them when they enter, saying hello, etc. After she seemed stronger, we did this in the rest of the house. Then, we once, for example, went and sat outside a shopping center for 15 minutes and said “hi” to everyone who came out…what fun! And guess what, they all said “hi” back. But again, we prepared her first. We wanted to teach her about what it is like to go to a “show” of some kind. (i.e. a puppet show, a magic show etc.) So, we put on shows in her playroom – and she was the audience, she was the magician, we sold her tickets, she sold us tickets, she helped us to “be seated”, we learned about how we are quiet while the show is “on” and how we really can clap loud at different times. Then, we took her to a magic show, and she knew how to be there, because we had prepared her.
It is also helpful to begin, inside your home and out (as we had talked about when you were last here at The Option Institute) asking him to “step up”..challenging him to take care of himself more, to grow, to “rise to the next level”. We spoke about ways that you could also change, to allow for this space …how are you doing with that? Perhaps you could re-visit this as a question and ask yourself, “Am I still anticipating for him, rather than giving him a chance to do himself?” “What do I believe he is capable of…” Perhaps write this one down and then list ways in which you can expand this belief. If you expand whatever you believe he is capable of now, then you will ask him for more!
You can also send us a video tape of one of your outings, and schedule a video-feedback, and then perhaps we can watch the tape and give you input on things you could alter or change to be even more helpful to him.
Toby, I hope this is helpful for you. I know the relationship that you have with Gideon is truly a “gifted” one. You have been so blessed with each other. I hope you enjoy putting the above into action…keep me posted.
Bryn N. Hogan