The values of therapeutic play Κ.Α.Λ.Ε.Σ.Μ.Α. (Invitation)
Κ.Α.Λ.Ε.Σ.Μ.Α. is a special and very effective approach to autism. It is, in its core, an expression of unconditional love, in a way that the child can understand and accept. We do not doubt nor underestimate the parents’ love towards their child. Parents do everything in their power for their child. It is often the case though, that their children cannot feel this love because its expression is not perceivable to them.
Κ.Α.Λ.Ε.Σ.Μ.Α. teaches us a deeper understanding of love, one that autistic children can comprehend and thus guides them to progress. The child’s possibilities are limitless. It is essential that we believe in them and trust them wholeheartedly to develop in the best possible way. We do not give false hope, but autistic children have shown us many times that they have enormous capabilities. Everything is possible, as long as we create the necessary conditions.
If we do not aim to improve on the last achievement, travel one progressive step further, we will never realize the potential of the child. 5-year-old Panagiotis’ development had halted for over a year. No eye contact, no speech, minimal understanding of the meaning of words. After three months of play Panagiotis started asking for his favourite activities verbally, with clear enunciation!!
Autism is not a behavioural problem, but a social and communicational disorder. It is a neurological irregularity which results in the children finding it difficult to connect and interact with the people around them. Most behavioural problems are caused by the misunderstanding of their needs, as well as the parental/environmental pressure that is put on the child in order to make it conform to societal rules.
Inside the playroom, undesired behaviour rarely occurs. There is no reason for temper tantrums, because the child has the control. As I often tell the parents: We get the best part of the child, that is to say, the smile, the genuine laughter and the lovely visual contact. Learning becomes more effective when children have motivation; it’s not just an issue of repetition.
If whatever we want to teach them doesn’t make sense to them, they will not learn it easily. Something that interests them and is enjoyable, they will learn fast. This doesn’t mean that they will only learn what they wish. The point is to give them the right motive in order to achieve our goals. Stereotype routines make sense and have meaning for the children.
That is why we accept them as they are. We even see them as a means for the children to feel us close to them and for sociability to begin to grow. Not only do we not try to stop them, but we might even join those behaviors with all our hearts, since they hold such meaning for the children. That is how they can allow us to be close to them, they feel our unconditional love and acceptance.
In this way they can enjoy our company and we can build a true relationship. There cannot be development and learning without a real, substantial relationship between us. The child’s development needs an optimal environment. Most autistic kids are continuously affected and influenced by various stimuli.
It is best to create an environment without distractions in order to reduce tension and prohibition that really gets in the way of progress and joyful interaction. Under these circumstances learning can take place, but more importantly the sweet relationship is established, which the parents, as well as the child, long for so much. Parents and specialists are most effective when they feel at ease with the children and are optimistic about their capabilities and future.
In most cases the parents are not at all well informed about autism and, more specifically, about their own child. Usually the doctors give very negative information, like ‘your child will only be able to learn some rules, he will not speak’, etc. Parents hear what their child will never be able to do and what they should not expect to happen.
That is catastrophic, not only for their own psychological and emotional state, but also because this severely hinders their effectiveness towards their child. Negativity cuts off the parents’ wings, destroying any optimism, which they really need in order to be able to help their child. It is essential that parents believe in their child’s potential so that they can set goals, formulate plans and work on them.
The learning progress of a child is not always visible to us. Children learn all the time, even if we cannot see it. They may have not have mastered a certain skill, but they have surely received a huge dose of acceptance and sociability.
One of the most important pitfalls in the interactions between autistics and non-autistics is that not only does the autistic person perceive the behaviour of the other wrongly, but also that the non-autistic person does exactly the same and takes personally that which never had unkind intention.
Μαρτίνε Φ. Δελφός (Martine F. Delfos)
The objective is that the trainee will be able to play therapeutically on a professional level. This entails playing consciously, being able to apply the techniques, gaining experience with various children and providing inspiration for the parents of the autistic child.
The program consists of:
v 10 theory lessons
v homework about the theory
v hands-on practice with a variety of children
v one article per month about the student’s progress
v weekly home visits
The theory program is as follows:
Lesson 1: Our attitude
Stress, the here and now, the secret
Lesson 2: The “Option” method
Acceptance of all situations, the choice of happiness, exercise
Lesson 3: Rational Emotive Therapy
Healthy and unhealthy thoughts, exercise
Lesson 4: Autism
Sensory disorder, egocentrism
Lesson 5: Communication
Methods, their importance, the message to the child
Lesson 6: The autistic way of thinking
Lesson 7: Techniques of therapeutic play
Eye contact, control, participation, predictability, the three E’s
Lesson 8: Objectives
Steps, direction, reward, exercise
Lesson 9: Positive guidance - play
Lesson 10: Parents - families
Information, education, support
Alternative ways of self-awareness
Κέντρο Αυτισμού και Υποστήριξης Γονέων
Μ. Στέεμαν- Κοκκαλίδου, εξελικτική ψυχολόγος
2310 450 941
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