This has been a term of focusing on giving time. Time for processing information. Teaching adults to step back and give time. Time for letting children process information. Time for increased independent communicators.
‘Give yourself time to process,’ It’s a simple thing to say, but in reality it can be hard for adults to do. Our lives are so busy; there are targets to be met, and jobs to do. When assessing communication environments, I often see adults so eager to help. This can (for some), result in adults missing communication opportunities and moments of independence for the children that they are working with.
The average person with no communication difficulties takes 10-15 seconds to process new information. Take a moment and count that. It can feel like a long time. For some children, their processing time is significantly longer. Allowing children processing time can quite literally be a skill you have to teach yourself. But my goodness the results can be huge!
This term, I ran a TEACCH focused language therapy group for a group of 4 teenagers with Autism and severe learning disabilities. A target for adults was:
‘provide help when a child requests it – using sign, symbols or speech.’
This target required the adults giving the children processing time, (all the children understood the word ‘help’ and were working on generalising expressing this prior to this therapy group).
Initially in the first few sessions the adults needed constant reminders to; wait to help, be quiet, remain calm and what the hierarchy of prompting was when a child needed support.
For some of the children it took them a considerable length of time before they asked for help. As the group sessions continued the results were significant:
-The children’s spontaneous requesting of help increased.
-Their processing time significantly decreased.
-They completed language tasks independently.
-They problem solved.
-Language use surrounding the context of the task increased.
-There was an evidential change in the children’s non-verbal communication, (I.e. Smiling, relaxed body posture evident, singing while completing tasks).
As a result, staff were so encouraged by the results they had seen. Thereby, they transferred these skills into other lessons within their day.
Remember: ‘Processing time is powerful and can have a significant impact on a person’s communication and independence.’