This year I run my first summer camp in BC. Two weeks with three kids and I loved every single bit of it. And so did the kids. I see two out of them individually once every week. Working with them individually or in a group is completely different. Why?? Well that’s different from kid to kid.
V- the only boy in the group is way more easy going then at home. At home we work a lot on strategies for his mom to deal with his behavior issues. There, I have seen him working on his best and on his worst. I have been shown the door by him a few times ( sometimes I barely stepped through it). In the end I have left every time on my own terms with him finishing what I have asked him to do. Sometimes that meant we could play, dance around lava, trick a shark and sometimes that meant to calm down and sit till we are in the right state of mind.
His mom was having a hard time with conflicting advice. When what to do, was and is her biggest struggle. And it is hard. Upbringing is about balance. Balance between rules and having a good time. As an up-bringer you work on this balance every day. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t.
But we are working in looking for his motivations behind his actions. He sometimes shouts, throws shoes and tries to grab you as he having a tantrum and tries to catch your attention. Then don’t give to him. In group he learned this way fairly quickly to calm himself down and joined back in the group activity.
He sometimes shouts and tries to grab someone because he wants to help or he overexcited. Then it’s important to pay him attention and praise him for trying to help or recognize he is happy but he should sit back regardless. To judge the situation it takes knowledge of the kid and his emotions. But you have to be careful to not make excuses for your kid. If it’s having a tantrum let it have it and then talk to it.
He made some important improvements during the camp and the consistency dealing with him while still having expectations on him, made him feel at ease. The experience of the camp will help me to teach mom better as she knew it worked. And sometimes that’s just what it takes to bring changes in the family by showing changes with their kid is possible and attainable.
Mo. Well, Mo. She is superstar. I have not seen her for about half a year. I usually do not see her individually. To be honest I don’t think I could bring a lot of change at home as her parents are very good in following through with what has been done and adjusting it conductively to their way of living. But since I have seen her last and now, she seems to be a different child. She remembered the group from March camp and straight away lit up. She loves working in this group. A child who hardly shows any emotions, giggles and laughs at the right places. She really feeds of the clapping and cheering of the whole group. It was really easy to teach her knew skills because we would cheer like crazy when she got it right. She would love that so much that she would seize to repeat it. Again and again and again. Her verbalizing was just amazing. She not only makes noises now to get something (which in itself is a miracle) but she will also try to form the correct sounds with her lips. She would try to get your attention when she wanted something and boy, when she wanted something she would try anything to get it.
One of the huge developments of the camp was, that she started to take her assistant to the bathroom when she needed to go. This has been huge for her and her family as she so far been only trip trained with intermediate success. We additionally have been working on using picture exchange to express that she needs the bathroom and this also seemed to be going pretty well.
Last but not least Ma. I see her on a weekly basis. I have seen her mother interact with her and seen that she is very conductive in her upbringing anyway but just needs some ideas and tricks to work on certain skills. I usually work with her by myself and share with her mom afterwards what we have been working on. She has shown steadily progress with her skills. At home she tends to loose her concentration and motivation quite quickly, not so much during the group program. In fact, it was great to observe how she applied spontaneously skills we have been working on during the last couple of month. We managed to even push a bit further with our work. Considering she had little control or awareness of her right foot half a year ago, she now can walk with her toes up. Amazing. The group is doing her so good. Her mother run a daycare during the summer. Ma spent the day with the little kids and it was to observe that her level of maturity shrank to the level of the little guys group. It was very hard to get her to focus or do anything those weeks. However, in the CE group, she was very keen to lead by example and did fantastic.
This shows how important the right group is and how to use the group dynamic to bring out the best part of each individuals personality. In the place I worked before, we had the luxury of a lot of different groups and could place the participant where we thought they could grow most. One of the client I ever turned down without trying them out in a group, I knew would not work in the group the parents wanted (which was the summer program). Yes, I think that CE could have made a different but not in the available group and with not my at that point, abilities to keep a group together. Even the kids in this groups were all very different with very different diagnosis and abilities, I knew those will make an awesome working group. I am very glad my conductor instincts proved me right.
I think, I would not necessary made the same decision coming straight out of University. The reason I knew it would work is because I have seen a group with a similar variety work before. Who knows, in a couple of years I might not turn down a kid working in a similar group, like I did back then.