The Big Friendly Lion!

Interactions with Andy are often fascinating and can be lots of fun. It is important to relate to him on his own terms and in a way that is both acceptable and stimulating to him. Fail to do this and your chances of meaningful interaction are extremely limited as many a person could testify! Persist with this and Andy can become irritated. Very often what people refer to as ” challenging behaviour” is less an expression of aggression but rather one of frustration or annoyance. For us this type of reaction is a communication. It says something loud and clear- I don’t know or understand, I am not comfortable with how close you are or your directness, I really do not want to do this etc. Andy is not an aggressive child, even when severely annoyed.
On a more positive note a game that Andy enjoys with me is ” the big friendly lion.” As an approach it is influenced by Greenspan’s Floor Time I suppose and it incorporates lots that he enjoys – having fun, squeezes, tickles, funny voices and rolling about on his bed. I initiate this game by coming in to the room, adopting a deep voice ( you know like a lion?) and saying ” one day the big lion was walking through the jungle. He was looking for Andy.” If in the mood he will immediately roll up in his duvet and giggle. I look about, roar and go to the bed where I pound out the lion’s footsteps on his mattress while pretending to look for him and letting out the occasional roar. As I get closer his laughter and excitement increase till the lion pounces on him and gives him squeezes and tickles and kisses. I then inform him that “it is a big friendly lion that loves Andy very much.” This type of game helps Andy overcome difficulties with social interaction. It leads to verbalisations, eye contact, engagement and gestures to indicate more or to do it again. It is a very positive type of engagement and helps balance up the more negative daily interactions. When you take into account his developmental delay games like this are very age appropriate, loads of fun and very helpful for developing social engagement and communication. I also do a monkey, a dog , a cat and a duck, all very badly it has to be said, but the big friendly lion is our favourite!


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