Saturday, 26 June 2010

Talking Circles, Talking Sticks, Autism & ADD



My son has some conversational difficulties and gets very frustrated and impatient when he is trying to explain something. This frustration usually results in someone being hit or sweared at. My daughter can engage in long monologues and doesn't have much regard for her listeners and doesn't really allow other people to speak. I think part of their difficulties come from their autism but I think some of it is due to my husband and my competitive style of talking. We both try to dominate conversation and are not good listeners. I don't think this is helpful and doesn't create a good communicating model for our children.

I have decided to try an introduce a Native American Talking Circle to resolve problems and discuss family matters. The idea is we sit in a circle listening to the person who holds a talking stick. The person that hold the stick is allowed to speak for as long as they wish without being interrupted. (In native American culture is is rare that people talk for too long but due to my kids tendency to indulge in long monologues I am going to restrict there talking using an egg timer.) Once they are finished talking the stick will be passed to the next person. Hopefully, this will make the kids feel more secure that they will be listened to without someone butting in.

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a plan!
    Sam has Aspergers and can 'hold court' for hours at a time.
    We have been able over the years of Home edding to change this into more acceptable time frames. However some of the best advice I ever got was to count to six..seconds work well after I have asked him anything. It takes him this long to think, compute and answer and saves shed loads of frustration in cross talk and interruptions.
    I talk more than my husband, he is the strong silent type.
    Good luck and good speed on your Home Ed journey
    Fiona

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  2. Great idea, just be sure the listeners are actually (and obviously) paying attention, and not looking at the timer and waiting for their turns. Perhaps the next person to speak could begin by recounting one thing about what that person had said, like, "Owen, it sounds like you're feeling a bit cross about..." or "Anya wants to..."
    Gives a bit of confirmation to the speaker thay he or she was heard, gives other listeners another chance to understand, (in case they got distracted!) and encourages good listening in everyone.
    I love Fiona's advice about counting (slowly) while you wait for a response, and it also gives you time to remind yourself not to get/sound irritated, if you need that.
    Regards,
    Sue

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