During the phase of offering, the most important concept to understand is that absolutely no demands are placed on the learner at all. The only "request" the adult is making is that the learner allow the adult to play near the learner and this request is a non-verbal one. The adult gathers materials and objects that he/she feel reflect the child's emotional level. The adult begins to explore and experiment with these objects in the general area of the learner. These actions take place in a way that if the learner desires, he/she can reach out and touch, interact with, or take the objects that the adult is manipulating. The adult is making an "offer" of activity and the learner can accept or decline that offer.
If the learner interacts with the objects in the environment, the adult must accept the method of exploration as acceptable. If the learner mouths, throws, taps, bangs, pushes, bites, bends, etc. an object - the adult must not interfere with that exploration. The focus is that the learner has accepted the adult and the objects into his/her environment and has begun to accept the offer of the activity. The adult can use information gained through observation to gain an understanding of the learner, his/her skill level and the learner's method for contacting the world around him/her.
The purposes of the Phase of Offering are:
- to promote trust between the learner and the adult
- to observe the learner's reactions
- to identify what the learner likes/dislikes
- to establish an understanding of the learner's emotional level
- to introduce self-activity
During the phase of offering, at no time should the learner be asked to complete a task or be asked a question. Verbal responses should only be to comment directly on what the learner is doing, and only during the pauses in activity. Be very careful as simple speaking to the learner can be "misinterpreted" as a request, causing the learner to shut down, move away, or engage in negative behavioral responses.
If the learner is able to move away from an adult and does so, the adult should not move or chase the learner. Continue to engage in the activity for 5-10 more minutes and observe if the learner will return or move toward you. If the learner does not then you have identified that you began the activity in too close proximity to the learner. After 5-10 minutes verbally identify that you had a great time playing and maybe you will do so again tomorrow. The following day, begin again - only at a further distance away from the learner and possibly for a shorter period of time. During activity, "accidentally" toss objects away from you so that they land near the learner. Hopefully, the learner will remain in the area near you, and will eventually move toward you or the objects in the area.
The individual cannot learn anything from an adult if the learner does not want to be near the adult!
Take a look at this video showing an instructor at Penrickton Center for Blind Children using the technique of Offering with her student.
Phase 1: Offering Using a Resonance Board
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Description: Phase 1: Offering Using a Resonance Board
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