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Friday, January 15, 2010

Complementary Coordination - an example

The best way I can think of to describe complementary coordination is to describe a hypothetical family putting it into an activity. 

Meet Ben.  Ben is an 8 year old boy on the autism spectrum.  He is verbal, but not conversational.  His speech can be scripted.  He has some sensory issues, mostly auditory, though he also benefits from a sensory diet at school.  When he is feeling challenged, he tends to wander off. 

Ben's mom, Sara, is working on coordination.  They have been working on co-regulation for several months.  Ben is at the point where he loves to roll a ball back and forth with Sara.  This game has evolved into bouncing the ball, and eventually into catch. 

In order to move this into coordination, Sara has started to add movement into their game of catch.  She starts out slowly, moving only a foot or two to the side after throwing the ball to Ben.  Once he is able to adjust to her movements by throwing the ball to her in her new spot, she starts to vary it even more, moving more often, and with bigger distances.  Ben must monitor her movements in order to figure out where to throw the ball. 

The first time Sara tries this, she does not move much.  She stays quite close to her original spot, and only moves occasionally.  Once Ben is able to coordinate with her here, she starts to move more often, but she continues to stay relatively close to her original spot.  As Ben's competence increases, her movements become bigger. 

It is important that Sara is aware of Ben's cues, and that she adjusts to his needs every time they do this.  There may be days when he has more difficulty than others - perhaps he has had a difficult day at school, or he is coming down with a cold.  If this is the case, she needs to take it down a notch, even if he has been successful in the past.  However, it is equally important that she add small challenges in increments that Ben can handle.  He may need extra help, perhaps in the form of an indirect prompt, when he is uncertain of where to throw the ball.  Sara also needs to understand that she will make mistakes in this process, and that this is okay.  The important thing is that she consistently works on this, and does not let the setbacks get her down. 

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