Anne-Marie Walker, Educational Psychologist, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Annan Town Hall.
Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is a method which uses video and effective, attuned interactions to support people to bring about change. As an educational psychologist, I often use this method with the relevant adults around a child, parents, teachers and/or learning assistants. However, I have been interested in including children and young people more directly in this work ensuring their voices, goals and skills are fully recognised. To help illustrate how I might do this I am sharing a case study of a boy I will call Ross.
Ross, a Primary 6 boy in in a village school was really interested in buildings and number. Following a significant period of ill health, Ross who had a diagnosis of Asperger’s, had been unable to manage mainstream classes. He communicated his distress through significant physical behaviours which at times hurt others. In order to meet his needs at that time he was being educated in a small room initially with 2 members of staff. Despite “everything” having been tried to help Ross access his mainstream class and peers, including support for his family, after 18 months he was still only managing up to 20% of his school week in class. Ross was an academically able boy and everyone was frustrated by not being able to find a way forward to support him back to his class. I offered to try VIG at a Childs Plan Meeting (CPM), initially thinking of working with the adults to support Ross.
I met with Ross to find out what he wanted to be better, discuss the idea of VIG and explore his consent to try this. Ross’s main goal was to improve at maths. He felt he used to be really good at maths and this was no longer the case since he had been unwell. Ross showed some interest in the idea of video but was not sure. Hence, we agreed to a trial where I filmed him in Physical Education, which he was currently accessing with some success, followed by watching some selected clips with him the following week so he could decide if he would consent to the method being used. After this review, I changed tack and agreed to work directly with Ross using VIG methodology on his goal of getting better at Maths due to his engagement and interest in the approach. I found his choice of goal challenging but felt it was really important to respect his objective. We agreed the second film would involve him being part of a class maths lesson for short time and I would bring back clips the week after for us to look at what was working.
The intervention consisted of:
Children very much exist within a range of systems with varying roles, responsibilities, behaviours and dynamics that can help or hinder change. I was very mindful of the need to include the adults around Ross to support him in this work and contribute to the achievement of his goal. To this end, I discussed the concept of video feed forward (VFF) with the class teacher after 3 cycles, giving the teacher an active role in supporting Ross. VFF involves identifying potential future behaviour and either staging or creating it through skilful editing of video (Forsyth & Sked, 2011). The class teacher agreed to work with Ross on a scripted session where he was working on a maths task and needed to seek help. This focus was chosen because it fitted with discussions in the previous shared review and allowed Ross a safe space to try out new behaviours. Once this script was written the class teacher and Ross acted it out and filmed it. This video was then shared with me and I offered practical help to the teacher to edit the film before she shared it with Ross. I also used this film as a basis for a shared review with Ross. A shared review involves viewing clips which have been specially selected to be positive and relevant to the person’s goal. These are then discussed within an attuned interaction where the guider works hard to find the ideal balance between supporting the child and activating them to find their own solutions. This shared review ended with a simplified version of a clear goal to be able to seek and accept help, with a short list of strategies Ross felt able to use.
Again, being mindful of the inclusion of the adults around the child, I considered potential ways to involve the mum. It was not possible to share clips from filming in the class because of the other children being present. I videoed the shared review with Ross and myself where we discussed the video feedforward film as I normally did with his consent to aid my reflection. During this review I asked Ross about who in his life might be able to support him with his ideas going forward and he strongly identified his mum as his key supporter. I wondered aloud about the possibility of sharing clips from our shared review with his mum and Ross liked this idea. Had Ross not liked this idea alternative ways to include his mum would have been explored. I then selected clips from this video to share with his mum, including some focus on him smiling with pride in his video, showing some insight into his misunderstandings in communication, and his ideas for the future about what he felt able to do. I then did a shared review with Ross and his mum at their home as they requested. Ross managed a significant period of time sitting on the couch beside his mum engaged in reviewing the clips, before moving behind the couch to listen and join in from there. This review proved very successful in sharing with his mum what we had been doing, shared joy (between mum and her son) in being able to see him experiencing success in something, awareness and support of Ross’ ideas but also activation of ideas of her own in how to support Ross to develop his communication further.
We agreed that Ross would have a further edited video feedforward video at home (as only Ross and his class teacher featured) over the summer holidays to support and remind Ross about his ideas to continue to make things better, as well as support the transition over the long break from school by focussing on successful interactions. We also agreed one further film and review to check up on the success of his strategies into his new class and to evaluate the intervention’s success.
The intervention was evaluated positively by gaining the views of Ross, his parent, and his school. His inclusion in the mainstream class was also monitored and this significantly changed to managing 70% of his time in class. Ross was able to express that he found the use of video and “not talking about the problems” as helpful. My view of the turning point for Ross was in his realisation that he expected the adults in the school to know when he was stuck and what with, and know exactly how to help him without him communicating with them. This was leading to very significant frustration for Ross. One of his key ideas to make things better was a script where he said “ I am stuck with qx” which helped initiate the helping interaction. Sharing this perception with school staff and his parent allowed others to also change their interaction in helpful ways.
The medium of video proved really successful in working with a child with social communication issues. The facility to focus on the video made it easier for the child to interact with me in this type of work.
I found it very challenging to be attuned to Ross, and videoing and reflecting on the shared reviews was fundamental to my success. Reflecting on film of shared reviews allowed me to pick up on very subtle cues which were different than I am used to, to see his engagement when I wasn’t sure I was getting it right, and in supporting me to alter my interaction style to more closely meet his needs and attune better.
The inclusion of video feed forward also worked really well, not just in including the class teacher to take an active role in the intervention, but in allowing Ross to fully consider and try out ideas in a very safe way, before reflecting on which of his strategies were possible for him to use in a real life context.
Using clips of a shared review with the parent was really powerful and opened up additional possibilities based on the child’s views, perceptions, success and hard work.
VIG can be successfully used directly with children, although careful consideration of how to make the best uses of the adult resources around the child is needed.
Forsyth, P. & Sked, H. (2011). VIG when working with children and adults on the autistic continuum. In H. Kennedy, M. Landor, &L. Todd (eds.) Video Interaction Guidance, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, p144-156.
A selection of articles around the use of VIG and autism can be accessed at the VIG knowledge site: http://vigknowledge.wikispaces.com/space/content?tag=autism