III 2018 – VIDEO 2 – if you see us using a nursery rhyme
One of the wonderful things about Intensive Interaction is that it needs nothing other than your observation skills and willingness to have a go, to show your partner you’re really paying attention and are interested in what they have to say. There is no need for things. No need for equipment. No need for complicated scripts to promote communication.
However, there are times when structure of some sort adds a helpful framework. Music is, almost universally, accepted as a good way of helping people feel comfortable, often relaxing people so deeper interactions take place. The structure it provides can be helpful in motivating someone to connect and using familiar tunes that people remember or use themselves, perhaps from nursery rhymes, provide an instant, reassuring and familiar context for interactions. We are always mindful that the feelings of safety and contentedness that seem to be evoked by these tunes, are incredibly useful when creating an environment that maximises connection.
We consider that their use can be meaningful and relevant, if we use them with clear purpose and this outweighs any suggestion their use may not be age appropriate. The interests someone has developed are determined by their experiences of life and it can only be respectful to recognise that, for some, this may have become fixed at certain points. These points are excellent starting places for building trust and deeper relationships.
Take, for example, the following situation. Within an interaction, we are doing a great job at noticing and responding to the communicative indicators from our interaction partner. We are waiting, not jumping into processing time and celebrating our partners communication. We want to explore our connection further, perhaps we wonder if there is beginning to be some intentionality in the communications.
We decide to use the tune to Frere Jacques, changing the words to reflect what we are noticing and to reinforce that our attention is fully on our interaction partner.
We sing their name, perhaps:
“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, moves his hand, moves his hand……..” focusing on something that Johnny is already doing.
When Johnny moves his hand we move ours too. We may touch his hand to further illustrate we’ve noticed him.
As we progress, we might sing:
“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny………….” and wait. Johnny may move his hand again and we celebrate in the same way, or, as we have found in many cases, something else happens. This method can be turned into a really fun way of sharing what is happening within a group situation too. Everyone has the opportunity to be in charge of what everyone is doing, even if it is just breathing: to feel what it is like to positively influence other people.
Songs such as “one finger, one thumb” often prove hilarious as the list of responses to remember becomes longer and practitioners find themselves making mistakes. In our experience, given the opportunity, the people we work with are often motivated to “remind” or “correct” the practitioners, perhaps because this means they get to be ‘one up’!
There are countless songs to use and if you have the skills, simple melodies are easy to make up and learn. We have several that arose spontaneously, have spread between our teams of practitioners and which provide a variety of features. For instance, some provide elements of huge anticipation. Some have lots of repetition: some an element of surprise. When used with Intensive Interaction at their core they all offer additional value to communicative exchanges.