A video tutorial by Pinki Kumar on how to teach Gestures to special needs.
Author Pinki Kumar
Pinki is a special educator, play therapist and a mother of a neurodivergent kid. She has a YouTube channel Play and learn to teach different methods and strategies. These videos are a great resource for the parents to help their child learn various skills.
I want to ask you all, Do we need to be verbal to communicate? I don’t think so, then why stress so much for it. Of course, it’s the most common way of communicating, most of the junta communicates in this mode, but our kids are different so their way of expressing CAN be different.
Now, let’s cut the chase.
I remember seeing “PUSHPAK” movie growing up. I think, most of us might have seen the movie; we have seen, enjoyed “Tom & Jerry”, “Charlie Chaplin”. All of these didn’t have dialogues. Most of the communication was non-verbal. Non-verbal is the foundation of communication, that’s the first stage, a child communicates to his/her parents. The child senses the parent’s expressions and gets an idea of his surroundings.
Next, for any communication to be successful, it has to be in partnership. Most of the time, we talk to our kids in Q&A mode i.e the Imperative language. “What is this”, “Tell me that”, “Say : Bye”. We don’t leave any room for the child to think. But, an authentic or real conversation is mostly experience sharing and using lot of declarative language, else it’s sermon-like or answering a paper filled with Qs.
Now, let’s get to practice :
Non-verbal communication includes
usage of lot of facial expressions, eye gaze,
lot of pause (can’t emphasise enough the value of it)
Declarative Language, simply put, is saying out loud, what you are thinking or experience-sharing. “Yumm, I love these soft Idlis”, with lot of eye-wideing and facial expressions showing it. “oh no, I wanted to drink Chai, but we are out of sugar”. Problem solve it by saying everything out loud. Let your child see and notice how we do problem solving in the real-world.
We practice it with –
Use lot of non-verbal ways of communications,
communicate to enhance “thinking”
Model, not instruct
“Look, Daadi is here. Hello Daadi.”, now look at your child as if to expect him to say. Transfer the responsibility to the child. Pause, If child responds, job well done, or if the child even looks at you or Daadi, communication has happened, acknowledge it.
By not giving the exact words for child to say, you are giving a possibility for your child to think.
“Look Beta, Daadi is leaving” , now look at your child, transfer the responsibility. If the child says “Bye” nothing like it, else we simplify it more, give them clues to facilitate thinking. you can say, “I wonder what we say when someone is leaving”, pause, look at your child, no response, it’s alright, we model “aah, when someone leaves we can say “Bye-bye”, “Bye Daadi, see you soon”. and you can invite the child to say Bye simply by looking at him, his response can be verbal or non-verbal (looking at you or Daadi). That’s the foundation you have built. We might have to repeat the same exercise with different set of people few times, but trust me, once the child gets it, we don’t have to instruct anymore. Later on, he will get the other cues too quickly.
So, let’s focus on Declaratives and non verbal communication to get to verbal. Let’s STOP hounding and be partners !!! Let’s redirect ourselves towards building Dynamic thinkers who can problem solve themselves
Creative representation for this blog has been done by our talented CreativeSaathi junior Lavanya Iyer. Non verbal conversation/ communication is depicted through the bond and connection between Radha and lord Krishna.
The 100-Day Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) Lab for Parents: Days 1-7
Who do you think of when you hear the word abhinaya? The picture by Morpheus shows a popular actress, Sridevi. We think of talented actors and actresses who engage audiences with enthralling performances.
This blog post is not about such actors and actresses. It is not about performances. It is about abhinaya as a tool for expression for everyone. Abhinaya as a tool for expression for parents. Abhinaya as a tool for communication for neurodivergent children.
This week is an exciting one! We launched the TAHD Lab for parents on December 5, 2022. TAHD offers many insights into effective educational practice for all children. One of the most important insights from TAHD for parents of neurodivergent children is captured in the notion of abhinaya in Indian natya. Dr. Ambika Kameshwar chose abhinaya as the concept of the first week of the TAHD 100-Day Lab. I think it an excellent choice for our community!
Concept of the Week: Abhinaya
Parents often worry about speech and language development. By changing our mindset to abhinaya rather than speech, we recognize that humans communicate in many ways. Speech is only one of many ways to communicate. Further, parents worry about speech means that they often overlook the struggles in other areas. In particular, they miss the struggles in nonverbal communication and emotional expression. These foundations of communication are developed long before speech! Abhinaya in Indian natya is a systematic framework of expression using varied modes of expression. Thus, abhinaya is a useful way of thinking about learning and development of children.
December 08, 2022
Abhinaya at the Airport!
I am very happy today! As we were waiting at entrance, a man came from behind and said “I have an 8.45 flight. Can I go?”
Ananth looked at him said “Go ahead” Usually he does not process unexpected things being said to him in crowded places. But he is very alert today. Indian airports are a good test of TAHD! He had the right posture, a pleasant face rather than stressed, and made a perfect entry through security while I went through the ladies line! I am very glad his Bharatanatyam lessons are shifted to TAHD mode. Everything is working together very well now!
An airport scenario is a good example to think about the various components of abhinaya. Vacika(speech) did not have to be used extensively. Angika (tracking people, knowing when to stop and when to go, handling security check) is much more significant. Satvika (expression) important too.
I think that the regular practice of open your eyes and smile and many reminders to smile throughout the dance class is already having some effect. Ananth didn’t a have flat or stressed affect but a more alert and with it look today! Finally, aharya or props. A simple example – handing boarding card to security person, scanning boarding card at entry.
Watch Ananth’s presentation of The White Peacock presented at a SpecialSaathi webinar. We retaped this video as the video was blurry in the webinar.
Ananth’s presentation at the SpecialSaathi webinar on December 2, 2022 illustrates the four components of abhinaya:
Angika abhinaya: Body movements (e.g., bharatanatyam mudra and hand movements) are used throughout the presentation.
Vacika abhinaya: Story narration is the speech part of the abhinaya.
Aharya abhinaya: Thanks to Manu Sekar’s mother (Manu is the Founder of HashHackCode) for stitching the attire for Ananth’s birthday. Originally, Ananth wanted a maroon kurta. Then, he decided to choose colors that would work with the peacock story!
Satvik abhinaya: Facial expressions and hand gestures were used to communicate how the peacocks and humans felt throughout the presentation!
Read about the four modes of abhinaya in Indian natya on page 7 of the TAHD book:
Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. 2006 Theater Arts for Holistic Development. Ramana Sunritya Aaalaya Trust.
Thank you Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh for your guidance and support. Thanks to Ms. Usha Sankaran for coaching him. Thanks to Dr. Ambika Kameshwar and Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna for ensuring that Ananth has the right mix of TAHD experiences at every stage. Thank you Shilpi Mayank Awasthi for a memorable 25th birthday celebration for Ananth. Some of our family members attended and I have also sent the video to a few family members.