published 8 Aug 2018
by Us in a Bus
in category with
Ben lives at home with his mum, dad, sister and dog. He has profound and multiple learning disabilities and epilepsy and although he can move around on the floor by himself he uses a personalised wheelchair for some time during the day to support good posture and encourage him to sit well. Ben doesn’t’ speak but uses facial expression and body language to communicate and to express himself. Ben attends an independent day service three days a week and we meet with him there once a week.
Ben seems to be quite a shy young man who is very watchful and choosy about how and when to engage with people. He loves sound and vibration, especially musical instruments such as the keyboard which he can hold close to his body and face to feel and hear. As Ben has matured he has grown quieter and been using his voice less, perhaps as he concentrates to make sense of the world around him.
Our aims with Ben are based around increasing his self confidence, particularly within social interactions. We aim to encourage him to express himself, support his emotional well being and offer opportunities for him to explore his sociability and positively influence our time together. During our time together we put Ben in control of what happens and when, offering him the opportunity to experience a sense of “power” and building his self esteem.
Ben’s interest in sound and music has frequently influenced our interactions and we regularly offer him our keyboard to explore. We rest it on his tray and wait to see what happens. If Ben is interested he reaches out and places his hand on the instrument. Initially Ben only seemed interested in sounds that were sustained and quite loud; he seemed to lose interest if the sound went away too quickly.
Gradually, as we have explored together, Ben’s curiosity has increased and we play games where we gradually change the volume or turn the setting to a different sound. We might reduce the volume until Ben removes his hand…….trying to guess how quiet we can go. We might pretend to take back the keyboard to “play ourselves” when Ben removes his hand. We ALWAYS celebrate whatever Ben does, responding to everything to give him the message that’s he’s in control.
Ben seems to really enjoy these interactions. He sits up tall, often with his “listening” expression on his face and usually with the gentle smile we have come to associate with Ben being interested in what’s happening. Often there develops a rhythm to the sounds as we copy the playing Ben does and this sometimes develops into an improvised piece of music with Ben dictating the tempo and pitch and us using our voices to echo the notes he plays and his breathing sounds. We will usually add words at this point to describe what’s happening and they ALWAYS acknowledge and celebrate Ben’s part in the process. We might sing about “Brilliant Ben who shows us how to play”.
We believe Ben feels a sense of pleasure from this celebration and realises he is in control. We believe this, because he seems to grow in stature as we watch, his smile deepens and he, almost without fail, reaches out and pulls us into a huge hug. He is becoming more confident in these interactions. If he’s in the mood, he quickly and clearly communicates how he wants things to be. There seems to be a direct relationship between his confidence and his communication.