The Play Doctors Answers to Questions supporting people living and working with children and young people
Readers of our newsletter have the opportunity to pose any questions they wish relating to inclusion.
The responses appear below.
If you would pose a question for us to answer please contact us
I had a child who was really attached to his Mum and would not let go to attend any type of activity play or school. In the end I asked Mum to let us borrow one of her scarfs and we added a little of her perfume to it. This was all the reassurance he needed that he knew Mum would want her scarf back so would be there to collect him. Also I had a child with a similar issue, we created a clock face with Mum on ‘dropping off’ lots of activity segments and another picture of ‘Mum’ on the time the sessions closed so he could constantly go look at the clock to know Mum was going to be there later. If it is about a human attachment disorder then consider what other types of sensory inputs could help that the child can carry with them to reassure them it’s OK. I had a young lad who hated his teaching assistant and would get angry. We thought for ages about what to do, and then asked her if she would wash her hair in the same shampoo as Mum for a couple of weeks and see what happened. The child calmed down straight away – crazy but true.
If it is around the need for working with object attachments – I had a child who was attached to an old fashioned spinner – he would take it everywhere and spin it 24/7. When I was teaching he came into class and I would say good morning to him and spinner. James would sit in his seat and the spinner would sit in it’s seat (on my highest windowsill). If James had done something that was over my expectations I would give him the spinner along with a 5 minute egg timer. He could spin his spinner but have to give it back to me once the 5 minutes was up. This worked quite well.
If you have a child with an attachment it is not always the best thing to remove it altogether but work with it, use it as an opportunity to praise and reward the child. Allow it to be in view so the child does not get distressed that they can’t see it. Provide the child with a visual structure that includes the attachment so they are reassured that at some point during the day they will be able to feed their desires.
A lot of it depends entirely upon what kind of attachment we are talking about. Distractions activities are those that give the child a sensory input that is stronger that the draw to the attachment. So work with things that the child likes perhaps include messy play, gooey play dough (we have a product called lab goo, which is metallic outer space goo that is really good for distraction. Even stretching elastic bands can be therapeutic.
We have just developed a new fan ‘I have autism’ but the petals can be divided so half of it is just an easy to use communication passport. This part of the fan can be used to support adult knowledge about attachments and what would be the best approach with the child. The Play Doctors
You spoke about children who were addicted to drugs at birth at a training event I recently attended – what’s it called?
The condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome try this site for information:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007313.htm The Play Doctors
At a training event you spoke about ‘listening enemies’ when working with children – have you any good links?
Here are some links
When you google, try ‘listening to children’ or ‘what stops us from listening well’ The Play Doctors
My child tends to pick inedible things up and eats them, have you any suggestions?
You have not said how old your child is in your question so there may be several things that could help. If your child is very young they may still be exploring the world using their mouth to make sense of the world around them. Some children continue this exploration into childhood until it gets to the stage where it is inappropriate. We have a FREE download sheet on dealing with eating inedible objects. Try this link: Eating inedible objects also you may be interested in this website: http://www.challengingbehaviour.org.uk/cbf-resources/information-sheets/pica.html The Play Doctors
I have a 4 year old son who I think may be on the autism spectrum, but we are not sure. What should we be looking for?
It can be very worrying when you notice things about a child’s development that does not seem to fit the pattern of other children. The first piece of advice would be to chat to the child’s nursery, see if they have also noticed anything different and if so begin to create a diary or observation record. In relation to autism there are 3 primary areas of difficulty Social Interaction, Communication and Lack of Imagination. These are known as the triade of impairment. No two children present in the same way so it is hard to compare like for like. I would like to direct you to http://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/page/about_autism/support/i_think_my_child.cfm
Also I have written a book called ‘Hey, children on the autism spectrum play too!’, this might be of use as I describe how autism presents, what to look out for and how to support children on the spectrum. Click this link to find out more Hey children on the autism spectrum play too! by The Play Doctors
I am really concerned about my autistic son. He is still quite young but is starting to feel himself – this also happens in public and I am getting worried about his behaviour.
Thank you for this question – it is perhaps more common that we realise, people just don’t want to talk about it. I came across an excellent website that may be able to help you – take a look at http://www.brighttots.com/Autism/Sexual_awareness_in_child
The Play Doctors
I’ve just been told that my son has Global Learning Delay and Social Communication disorders – have you heard of these?
Thanks for your email. Yes I have heard of Global Learning Delay and social communication disorders. It is frustrating as these two terms don’t really tell us as much as we would like to know.
In reality we need to take a child centred approach and think about how we can help the child from his perspective. We need to consider looking at world from his eyes and recognising what he has difficulty with. Without knowing your son I suspect that he has difficulty in communication, perhaps reading facial expressions, understanding the social rules and boundaries such as spacial awareness, he may interupt conversation without knowing he is doing anything wrong. I would also suspect that he has difficultly in getting himself organised and may not understand sequencing getting frustrated and may find transition difficult, going from one activity to another or from place to place. Many children get scared as they don’t understand what will happen next.
I have to say I am no medical professional but am a parent of a daughter who was diagnosed with similar conditions. We were able to support her with a few simple steps. These are general good practice.
Try to cut down on the number of words you use, your son may have difficulty processing verbal language. If you are asking him to do something and he does not respond then say the same thing again to re-inforce the message.
It is likely that he will respond better to visual stimuli, so provide clues for him to understand the messages either by using visual symbols or showing him something that he will relate to to help give him a clue.
Don’t give him too many instructions at the same time, break things down into small segments so he can achieve one element at a time.
I have given you a link to a short 10 minute you tube video – this is really worth watching as it will help you recognise how support can be offered.
The Play Doctors
Hi, I am trying to find my son a horn for his wheelchair – any ideas?
The kind of horn your grandson would need depends on his ability to control a switch or push a button. See if any of the links below would help?
Can anyone else think of suggestions? Contact us with your thoughts
The Play Doctors