Stage 1 – Emotion Sharing
Technique Tips While Doing the Activity
By Andrew Lenza (Parent) & Joyce Albu (RDI-CC)
1. In preparation try to imagine what the actual instance of Emotion Sharing will be while engaging in the activity (i.e. falling into the beanbags together, finding the prize together during treasure hunt). We call this the “pay-off.”
2. Try not to describe what you’re going to do. There is no need to pre-announce. Just launch into the activity, as pre-announcing reduces the anticipation and surprise.
3. If it helps, you can start by chanting a song while holding hands for a smoother transition (i.e. going for a walk, going for a walk).
4. If two Coaches are involved, don’t explain what the objective is, the pay-off or who does what within ear shot of the Partner (child) as this may also reduce anticipation and productive uncertainty.
5. Excessive language also reduces the surprise and spontaneous interactivity between Coach and Partner.
6. You can spotlight transitions and actual emotion-sharing moments with expressive sounds (i.e. “Ooooohhhh, aaahhh, Gotcha! Wow! Whheee! Sssshhh).
7. Avoid fill-in-the-blank statements, prompts or questions (i.e. Do you want to play again?). These are all forms of imperative communication. Imperative communication begets a response.
8. Try to increase non-verbal declarative communication with a change in your body position, subtle movement, and change of pace, scaffolding.
9. If a game framework is involved, be cautious about a “winning” outcome creeping in. Try to avoid very obvious outcome elements, like shooting a ball into the basket. Do you need two people to do this?
10. A valid question to continually prove an activity’s value is to ask yourself: If I wasn’t here, would the activity be just as rewarding to my son/daughter? The goal of Emotion Sharing is to become an integral, necessary partner in the event – to co-own it together.
11. Celebrate the success that both of you share, not a technical achievement on the part of the Partner.
12. To increase Emotion Sharing opportunities, try the following:
• Slow down the action.
• Interject long pauses and periods of silence.
• Build-up the excitement with gradual changes in your own emotional state.
• De-emphasize the prop, object or activity – it is the journey, not the destination.
• Add incremental, subtle variations so the activity does not turn into a static routine.
13. Remember that Emotion Sharing is not entertainment. It is not an individual sport. You need two people to create an episodic memory about human interaction and competency.
RDI Stage 2 -- Social Referencing
Function 2: Coach’s facial expressions and gestures are the most important information Ethan uses in determining subsequent actions when uncertain or confused.
Stage 2 Social Functions Objectives
F2A. Ethan seeks out Coach’s facial expressions and non-verbal actions when uncertain about subsequent actions.
F2B. Ethan seeks out Coach’s facial expressions and gestures to determine the relative safety of a confusing setting or situation.
F2C. Ethan seeks out Coach’s facial expressions and gestures for feedback about actions he has taken, while under the Coach’s guidance to determine acceptance or approval.
Family and Therapist Strategies to Help Ethan Obtain Social Referencing
Welcome to the wonderful world of mime. All of us need to severely curtail our verbal language and imperative communication (i.e. Look at me, do this, come here). Yes, we are allowed to talk but facial expressions and non-verbal communication should characterize our style when working on this objective.
The reason why we are eliminating verbal language is to motivate Ethan to obtain meaning from our facial gestures.
It is unfair to expect Ethan to talk and think at the same time. As we (Mom, Dad, others) decrease our language, Ethan will decrease his language as well. His referencing will increase and he’ll rely on the spoken word less.
We need to increase uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to thinking. Thought leads to self. Self leads to a neuro-typical life. Here is how we’ll do it:
Drastically cut back on verbal instructions and prompts. A fill-in-the-blank statement is a prompt and an imperative.
Avoid outcome-driven or process-oriented activities. For example, you can create uncertainty while washing the car if Ethan did not know where the soap was and you did. Or if you didn’t know how to turn the water on (e.g. feigned incompetence) Or if you handed him a choice between a rag or sponge. The goals are to [a] offer Ethan a myriad of opportunities to reference us and [b] for us to transmit information (yes/no, right/wrong, left/right) with our facial expressions.
The conclusion of an activity should not become the focus. It doesn’t matter if the suds are washed off the car or if the kite is made.
Stopping/braking an activity is another opportunity for Ethan to reference because we will have created uncertainty.
To assist Ethan in overcoming termination issues, we can end an activity altogether (i.e. “We don’t have to finish this today.”). Incomplete-completion variation will help Ethan overcome a rule-based rigidity.
Doing elements of an activity out-of-sequence is another way to increase uncertainty (i.e. just putting the powdered cake mix in the oven without stirring in the eggs and butter first).
Feigning incompetence (i.e. not knowing how to make Ovaltine) is another way to increase uncertainty and motivate Ethan to reference. Another by-product is Ethan’s own feelings of competence, especially if he knows how to do the task/game/objective.
When engaging Ethan in a two person scenario, the roles are clearly defined as a Primary and a Secondary Coach. The Primary Coach is slightly verbal and directs the interaction. The Secondary Coach is completely non-verbal and acts as a support to both Ethan and the Primary Coach. One strategy would be for Ethan to look to the Primary Coach (ref. point #1) for information but if it is lacking he will look to the Secondary Coach (ref. point #2) for the missing information. If both Coaches are ‘amped up’ with their facial gestures and exaggeration, it becomes more difficult for Ethan to obtain a clear referencing opportunity.
When using language, employ words that are general and vague. Leave out the instructions, clues and descriptions. Short, vague utterances will increase Ethan’s uncertainty. Strip away the adjectives and details (or use a word that can universally applicable to all the objects, like “yellow” if all of Ethan’s choices are yellow). Examples include:
“That one” …………………………………….to determine the identity of an object
“This one” …………………………………..…ditto
“The one over there”……………......................to determine the proximity of an object
“The one right here”…………………………...ditto
“The soft one”…………………………………..to determine the exact one from a bunch of pillows
“The round one”………………………………..to determine the exact one from a collection of balls
K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. The simpler frameworks work the best (e.g. treasure hunt, cooking, self-help skills). Once we introduce an outcome-driven goal and/or too many objects or moving parts, we risk creating chaos and dis-engaging Ethan.
Stage 2 Social Skills Objectives
S2A. Referencing to Resolve Uncertainty:
Ethan uses emotional information gained from observing Coach’s facial expressions to regulate his actions in a manner consistent with the referenced information in situations of uncertainty.
S2B. Referencing for Vigilance:
Ethan periodically shifts gaze to track Coach’s whereabouts and actions when involved in moderately interesting activities.
S2C: Referencing for Information:
Ethan references Coach’s emotional expressions in situations where facial communication can solve a problem or lead to a correct decision.
S2D: Referencing for Instruction:
Ethan maintains directed attention and observes carefully to learn appropriate role actions, while participating in parallel (e.g. stacking blocks side-by-side) and complementary (e.g. “builder-giver”) role activities
S2E: Referencing for Limits:
Ethan uses referenced information to maintain behavior within limits set by Coach for a time period appropriate for his age. Pauses during an enjoyable activity for a rest period at Coach’s request. Does not protest during the break and allows Coach to determine when to resume an activity. Accepts Coach’s directive to end a period of interaction when Coach notices he is tired. Accepts Coach’s definition of when a goal-directed activity is complete in a “good enough” fashion, even though more could be conceivably be done.
S2F: Referencing for Task Functioning:
Ethan modifies the way he handles and organizes materials properly based upon information obtained from referencing Coach.
S2G: Referencing for Feedback:
Ethan seeks out Coach’s facial expressions and gestures for feedback about actions he has taken to determine acceptance and/or approval. Stops or modifies his actions in response to referencing negative or disapproving facial expressions and gestures.
S2H: Referencing for Approval:
Ethan stops or pauses to communicate intentions either verbally or non-verbally (e.g. pointing while gazing at a desired location) to take an action that may or may not be acceptable to Coach. Regulates actions based upon information referenced from facial expressions and gestures.