Friday, March 27, 2020

Approaching "Whole Body Listening" is an important tool in teletherapy

After a week and a half doing telepractice with my groups, I notice one of the biggest lessons everyone is learning is regulating their body within the "group" meaning the Zoom Speaker View or Gallery View.

An anecdote on this is that I have a HS group with a client who has a lot of verbal stereotopy that is of course very difficult for him to control. As his first tele group was starting, this occured, and I was so proud of another client in the group who has really grown in his understanding of this peer. He said, "We can all just switch to Gallery View so that the camera doesn't pull to whose speaking as obviously." Just a great moment without shame. We then discussed as a group how to do this toggle and I made sure everyone could do it.

But Whole Body Listening is still "a tool, not a rule" as Suzanne Truesdale and Elizabeth Sautter have put it. We can gently encourage these behaviors while avoiding ableism or insisting that all make eye contact with the camera, or stay "still." There is, however, a difference between self-regulatory movements and behaviors and being disruptive on purpose or to seek attention, so we can walk that line. You can read about WBL in its original clinical conception by Truesdale here.

A visual I have used to target this concept is attached below, it was created/modified from an image by Lydia McDaniel, our grad student intern from Nova Southeastern.



For younger students, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen in this free digital form may be useful.

Some related concepts/tools are the 5 Point Scale, which I have used in many iterations with my groups, in this case emphasizing that balancing our talk time with others is one way to listen with our mouths and brain. 

In sessions I have also incorporated Social Thinking® concepts like Following the Group Plan vs Your Own Plan, Body in the Group, and Hidden Rules/Expected Behaviors. With a teen group, this article about annoying behaviors on Zoom spurred some good discussion and laughter and also involved main idea thinking/inferencing (i.e. read the heading of the described behavior and see if students can infer the gist of the paragraph)

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