III 2018 – VIDEO 3 – if you see us pausing in our interaction
In our work we tend to leave longer pauses than we would in general conversation, as the people we see can take longer to process the sensory information received, or formulate any vocalisations and expel them.
We intentionally allow for greater transition space, which is the term used to describe the length of time one syllable is deemed to take in ‘everyday’ communications that you or I might make.
Intensive Interaction begins with observing an individual, mirroring their movements and echoing their vocalisations to give them the sense of being listened to, heard and respected, essentially, to hold a conversation the same way you or I would with family, friends and colleagues. The difference is that these communicative exchanges can last from a couple of seconds to the whole hour of time we spend together, and as the flow of vocalisations can be very quick, or can be very drawn out, it may not be noticed or recognisable as a communicative exchange to someone not involved in the interaction.
We often leave pauses, waiting and observing before we respond, and sometimes a pause can last a second or two long, and on other occasions up to a minute. This allows enough time for the individual to process the sensory input they have received and sufficient opportunity to respond. Occasionally, a pause observed in an interactive session may seem uncomfortably long: the practitioner may pause for longer than you think is necessary. However, processing times can vary greatly, and that seemingly ‘empty space’ can be vital processing and responding time for the individual concerned and can drastically improve their feelings of being listened to, treated with respect, and that they are ‘good to be with’.
A pause is a highly useful tool. Offering a familiar song, or action, or response to a movement or vocalisation from one of the people we see, but adding in a gap for someone to ‘fill’, develops a sense of anticipation and increases the level of expectancy from the people we see. It furthermore notices and is mindful of the sometimes monumental effort it takes some people to be able to contribute to the interaction.
The aim is to increase the level of ‘fun’ during the connection, and also give our communicative partner the chance to be in control of the interaction and the pace the conversation develops. We communicate the respect and appreciation we have for the people we are with by working at their pace and by giving them the opportunity to ‘surprise’ and ‘amaze’ us with their contributions to the dialogue.