September 28, 2015

Peer matches

This program is facilitated by an RDI® trained extender and supervised by a consultant (RDI® consultant or Occupational Therapist). Two to three clients that appear to be a good fit are matched for peer interaction. Carefully selected structured activities are provided to promote play, communication, and overall interaction. The focus is on supporting the participants to engage with each other in natural and authentic ways. An emphasis is placed on using natural situations to explore the various aspects of interaction, become aware of others’ intentions and actions, calmly communicate needs and wants, collaborate, repair break downs, and remain regulated in the process. The participants are given opportunities to respond in their own way. Declarative communication, such as making comments, sharing opinions, observations and thoughts is used to promote engagement and experience sharing between the peers. Data is collected in specific goal areas determined and agreed upon by the parents and consultant. Parents receive a weekly completed data sheet so they can be apprised of their child’s performance/progress and to support their child in a similar manner during other peer interactions. Goals are updated and revised as necessary.

Peer matches can be a great way to target goals that may have been mastered on an individual level, but not with others.

Meet Daniel and Miles!

Daniel is 14; he loves soccer and Angry Birds. His best friend is his twin brother whom he spends most of his free time with. Someday, he is hoping to become a professional soccer player or maybe write books.

Miles is 13; he loves to cook and build with Legos. His best friend is his twin brother whom he spends most of his free time with. Someday, he would like to be a Lego designer or a chef.

Both boys had been receiving a variety of services through TAG for several years. They had met each other from time to time, but had not become friends. Both had acknowledged wanting to make more friends. They struggled considering other people’s perspectives, tended to either be too controlling or too passive, had difficulty reflecting on their own actions, tended to become upset quickly, and were often disorganized when tackling an activity. After careful consideration of their personalities, strengths and challenges, we decided to create a Peer Match, where Daniel and Miles would get to meet on a weekly basis with each other under the guidance and facilitation of one of our trained extenders (tutors).

Based on our knowledge on the boys, we developed individualized goals that targeted areas that interfered with their development.

Daniel and Miles started meeting over the summer of 2014. Every week, I met with our extender to reflect and discuss what had taken place in the last group, and to plan for the following group. Every group and activity was carefully analyzed and planned. Our goal was to create a safe and nurturing environment where the boys would be motivated to try new activities, get to know their peer, start developing greater self-awareness, and become more comfortable interacting with others in meaningful ways.

What happened then was quite wonderful! Under our careful guidance, Daniel and Miles developed a genuine friendship, where they looked forward to spending time together on a weekly basis. They engaged in a variety of activities that included cooking, board games, making videos, physical challenges and sports, and many more! They became used to reflecting on their emotions, actions, intentions and achievements. After a few months, Miles shared, “I used to hate basketball because I used to be so bad at it, but now I’ve gotten better at it, and I really enjoy it.” Daniel often reflects on how lucky he feels that he and Miles have become such good friends.

Like with any good friendship, Daniel and Miles do not always agree with each other. One day they were working on a film project that involved quite a bit of planning and decision making. Both boys were very excited and had very strong opinions of how the project should proceed. They experienced quite a bit of difficulty in coming to an agreement with how things should be done. After several sessions of trying to resolve their disagreements, the boys and their extender came to the realization that this project was a bit too challenging for now, and they decided to postpone it. Under the guidance of their extender, both boys reflected on their experience and their emotions. They realized that although they were very invested in the film project, they cared more about their friendship. They now look back at that event and genuinely smile at how upset they became, but how well they were able to recover and maintain their friendship. This was one of many powerful lessons that Miles and Daniel learned through their peer match groups.

Their friendship has now expanded beyond the TAG clinic, as the boys have met at each other’s house on several occasions, each time very successfully. It has been a joy to be a part of and witness their relationship blossom and develop.

To learn more or to set up a complimentary consult please call us at (858) 689-2027.

-Chris Vinceneux