The thing I like about Rod at Sensational Kids is the fact that he tunes into Beth’s mood and runs with it. An outsider looking in would have thought that Beth and Rod did a lot of playing around and not much work but in fact that’s how Rod gets the best out of Beth so that’s the approach he takes.
Sensational Kids use what is called the floortime approach. In laymans terms (or at least in my understanding and explanation) this means that they get down to the level of the child that they are working with and work with them there, rather than expecting the child to come up to theirs. I’ll use an example as my explanation which is the only way I can explain my take on it, please don’t take this as the way it would be explained as a professional because it is just the way that I understand it myself. Say for example that as Beth is 10 she should be on level 10. The assessments may show that she is at level 10 in some things but that on one level she is seems to still be at level 3. This means that the whatever is learned from that time for that particular thing is stifled and has stopped at level 3 because she doesn’t know how to get past this level. Beth would then be worked at at that level for the, for want of a better word, blockage. Once this is cleared it leaves the way for levels 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 to fall into place and she is doing the particular thing now at level 10.
We have found this has worked so well with Beth. Once Rod realised that Beth needed rules for sentences set up she just seemed to ‘get’ how to say sentences. At times though she seems to have difficulties with what seem to be the easiest concepts to get. One day we were playing her favourite game hullabaloo. It has a voice that tells you where to move to. There are coloured pads, musical instruments, shapes, and it says “sit on a yellow pad” or “put your left foot on a food.” At the end there is a victory dance which Beth generally does while yelling “I win, yay” even if she doesn’t. I don’t know where she gets that from! This particular day Rod decided that we would play it in the dark and Beth would have to tell him where to put the pads. It took ages for her to get past pointing at me and saying “over there, next to mum”. Rod plays dumb well (sorry Rod, not an insult!) and would be saying how he didn’t know where I was, she had to give him directions. By the end she was saying “between the chair and slide, or on top of the table, or to your left.” It sometimes gets frustrating and I think that she’s doing really well, give her a break, but then when she does it properly I am the one to ‘get’ it.
Today’s session was meant to be a game about feelings again but Beth just wasn’t in the mood. I thought I’d jinxed myself by saying that she wasn’t going to have a good session but Rod turned it around. I can’t remember how but they started wrestling. Somehow it ended with Beth sitting on one of Rod’s shoulders! Now Beth isn’t small, she’s like a fully grown woman though skinny, but about 45-50 kg. He hoisted her up in the air, walked her through the door to the gym and tossed her onto the cushions. Well of course Beth thought this was fantastic. She was talking and trying to get Rod to do things but she just couldn’t get out what she needed him to do. She wanted to do that again. Rod was standing and saying that yes, Beth could have a ride but how was she going to get onto his shoulders. She tried climbing him, moving his arms to lift her, anything but telling him that he had to get down on his knees. He gave her the cue, “I am so high up, what do you think we need to do to fix me being so high up?” Ding Ding Ding! “You need to be low down Rod.” How to get there “down on your knees Rod.” Score one for Beth. Go again, dump onto cushions. Round two.
Rod lay down on the ground. “no no no, you’re not meant to be there.” Rod acted confused, Beth had told him to get down low. Finally he got up on his knees but with his head bowed down. Told to lift his head he lifts it just a bit. Like a puppet he was making Beth instruct him on what to do. With a couple of cues she is riding again! This went on for most of the session. They didn’t get to play the game that was planned but by the end of the session Beth could say she was picking his left shoulder this time, that he should get down onto his knees but be upright, to duck his head at the appropriate times. It was fabulous to see. Rod said I should bring my camera next time so that I can show Speech Therapy Rod style! I think I will, then I can share what fun they have.