Even those closest to me often struggle to know how to interact with me. This may be because of my tracheostomy and my inability to talk, but it may also be because of the way that you interact with me, it may place a demand on me that makes me feel under pressure, and then I can’t help but withdraw from the situation. I may ignore you. I may walk away and entertain myself elsewhere. If you follow my top ten tips, you might just see the real Rory. I’m a cheeky little character and we can have bundles of fun together, you just have to do things a little bit different to help me.
1 Be aware of the Demand /Avoid cycle.
If you place a demand on me with language/interaction by saying my name or asking a question which I may find difficult because I cannot physical answer you, I will avoid you. I won’t make eye-contact, I will ignore you and I will take myself away to play on my own.
2 Don’t say my name over and over.
Or louder, I am not deaf. Don’t keep saying my name over and over, it just re-enforces the language pressure. Come over to me, on my level, touch me, or show me. Greet me with a ‘hi-five’ or if you want me to do something, show me. eg; show me the wellies and say ‘wellies’ ‘on’
3 Don’t ask questions
That I cannot physically answer.
4 Give me time
If giving an instruction, wait 10-15 seconds for me to process. Don’t just repeat it over and over, because then I will enter the demand/ avoid cycle.
5 Be the narrator
When playing or interacting with me, don’t overuse language. Either remain silent or narrate the play with single words. eg; Peppa in, George, Aeroplane. It is also good to give me feedback and praise.
6 Use singular words
This will help me build up my receptive language, my understanding of words. Don’t over complicate and make language even more of a pressure.
7 Feed language to action
When we are playing, choose language based on the action ‘tip’ ‘clap’ ‘cough’ ‘splash’
8 Sound games
Play sound games with me, hide the alarm clock or an iphone playing music and let me track the noise. Its good for my attention and listening skills. It is also lots of fun.
9 Role Reversal
Flip the role from initiator to responder. As grown-ups, we often do all of the talking, ‘ooh that’s a great picture, what is it?’ instead come and play besides me and wait until I initiate interaction first, be it eye contact, touching your hand, giving you a lid to open for example. Then respond. This gives me the communication control and helps build confidence that you understand me and I am safe to be myself.
10 Intensive Interaction
Copy me. If I am jumping on the spot. Come and jump on the spot at the side of me. If I am building a tower, come and build one at the side of me. It doesn’t have to be about language or conversation. Let’s take turns, tickle me, then stop. Wait for me to signal that I want ‘more’ I might look at you, move myself towards you, make a noise….watch closely for the cue and then tickle me again.
We can have so much fun together if you just follow my tips!