Communicating Choices: 5 teenagers, 12 sessions and lots of non-verbal ways of talking.
Communication, it’s big, we do it all the time, everyday. It links our worlds together and gradually over time we learn to understand and to find ways to be understood. From body language and behaviours to verbal words, noises and sounds, to objects of reference to pictures and symbols, a world of many tools to use and to find which ones suit.
Different levels of communicating and different ways to being understood, means in my world, working with this group of teenagers invites me to read their bouncing movements, their guiding hands, their bubbling vocalisations, their gentle and knowing eyes, the symbols and objects they give me, and I to them, and not relying on the verbal spoken word. Communicating Choices is all about this. A project I co-designed and lead to invite and enable these 5 teenagers to be understood in ways that are easier, calmer and accessible.
Over the next 12 sessions collaboratively with staff and teenagers we’ll build a passport of communication with each teenager. Each passport will have a living organic feel to it, a sort of scrapbook, which invites people to get to know individual’s ways of communicating, and their likes and dislikes. As we move week to week a different theme will arise, a select few:
Getting to Know Me: my likes and dislikes, Things That Motivate Me, Noticing Me, Understanding My Voice
The themes have flexible boundaries, a way into uncovering then discovering the important ways of each person, a springboard to spring from outside the classroom setting. Themes act as a way for me to create tasks and activities, and to nestle training offers into the sessions. For staff I’ll be inviting them to be aware of approaches to working with different communications and behaviours, ways into activities and transitions out, use of language, space and time, and how teenagers with labels of autism and complex needs interact with others and the world around them.
Looking forward, the next 12 sessions will be full of finding a sense a curiosity, creativity and softness, to discover each other’s ways of being understood and understanding.