Do you remember a time when you were bursting with excitement and curiosity? Maybe it was when you were a child, and your Mom and Dad told you to close your eyes as you waited for your Birthday present. Or maybe it was when you were on your favorite roller coaster, just before you go roaring down the tracks in a steep fall. This sense of excitement, curiosity, and sometimes an adrenalin rush, is known as anticipation; An extrmely useful and effective technique to use in the playroom.
While working with a beautiful four year old boy for his Intensive week here at the Autism Treament Center of America, I often use anticiaption to help him tell me what he wants. One of the ways I used this technique was in a ride game, in which he climbed insdie a plastic box, and I pulled him all around the room. My intention was to help him tell me what he wanted by saying “ride” and then, “I want ride.” First, I gave him a few amazing and fun rides around the playroom to build up his motivation for the game, and then I decided it was time to invite him to ask for the ride. I drove the box to the top of the slide and waited. I celebrated all of his amazing looks and then asked him to say ride. He said ride clearly, so he plumeted down the slide and I continued to drive him on a crazy adventure. I once again, drove my friend to the top of the slide, and this time, I waited. I said “Whoa , as I took a deep breath in and held it with a smile on my face. I moved the box as if it was going to race down the sldie, but then, I brought it back to the top. He said “ride” once again, so I celebrated and explained that I wanted to help him say “I want ride.” This sweet boy yelled “RIDE” really loud, so I moved the box as if it was going to go down the slide, but I didn’t let go. I whispered, “Maybe if you say ‘I want ride,’ this will help the box go down the slide.” We looked at eachother for sveral more seconds, so I smiled at him and continued to pretend I was going to let the ride box go. He then let out a giant “I wnat ride!” so I shouted a “WOOHOO” celebration and quickly let the ride box go down the slide. I so loved hearing his laughter as he went down the slide, but most of all, I loved seeing the look in his eyes. A look that said “I did it!” We played this game for a long time!
Anticipation adds excitemnt and energy to our interactions with children in the playroom. This technique will inspire the child to want to see “What happens next?” They will search inside themselves to use the word, or give the look that will make “it” happen.
Have fun experimenting! Oh, and I have one more useful technique to share with you…..but will have to wait until the next time:) ANTICIPATION!