Stimulated and Unstimulated Behaviour

In order to observe the child’s repertoire of behaviours, he/she is given an opportunity to do things he/she wants to do independently. The rest of us in the room divert our attention from the child for 5-8 minutes. I then ask the familiar person to offer the child a new toy, which I have provided. (My most successful toy is a toy car that produces flashing lights, spinning wheel, noises and vibrations. A vibrating and flashing flashlight has also proven suitable.) Both situations provide a wealth of information about a child’s behaviour.

In the next video clip, you’ll see Matthew, an 11-year-old deafblind boy.

Our assessment question focused on the reason for Matthew’s noncompliant behaviour. This behaviour is clearly demonstrated when Matthew enters the room. He keeps saying “No, no,” and he is just too anxious to touch anything. I hypothesized that this behaviour was caused by anxiety. You can see in the clip that Matthew’s mother has a reassuring effect on her son. When she approaches him with the spinning flashlight (a new object), he briefly wants to touch it. This contrasts sharply with his behaviour when I offered the object earlier.

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With this example, we are at the heart of my assessment style. Though Matthew demonstrated great anxiety about touching new objects, he could control his anxiety, to a certain degree, by using his mother as a safe harbour.

You will meet Andre in the next video clip. This 23-year-old young man was blinded 3 years ago. If left unstimulated, he often sits for prolonged periods of time in his chair, maintaining homeostasis by pushing on parts of his body. Observe this video clip of André, which was made on 11-11-2008 at Viataal (now Kentalis) te St. Michielsgestel, Netherlands.

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When I offer him small soft leather balls, which he has not touched before (stimulated behaviour), you can see that this alerts his attention.

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I hypothesized that Andre can be alerted by offered objects, particularly things that he can touch, turn around in his mouth, and smell. This gives a lot of information about his preferred sensory modality.



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