Interactions are different from transactions
When I go through the grocery store check out I speak to the cashier, I make a little bit of eye contact, I make a physical gesture and in doing all of this I complete several social loops. Sounds like an interaction, right? Well, technically yes. But really what I described was a transaction.
I train a lot of people to work with children, and one of the most common things I see is what I call “transactional” play. Basically, I’ll give you “X” when you do “Y”. The main problem with this model is that you’re often times not teaching your child to learn a skill for the right reasons. In other words, I want my child to look at me because they think I’m funny, interesting and exciting to watch, not because I am with holding something they want. Interaction happens when both parties involved are sharing the enjoyment of what ever it is they are doing
I always know when I am working with a child who has been taught to relate to people in a transactional way. They rarely use their communication spontaneously and it is hardly ever with much expression. When kids learn to communicate through interaction, in an atmosphere of enjoyment with another person social skills develop more naturally and from a place of instinct and of deep wanting forconnection.
I firmly believe that when it comes to cultivating social development in children with autism, there is no greater skill for a parent than being able to interact through play.
Play is a language that ALL children understand and is very much a doorway into your child’s world.
What’s one thing your child likes YOU to do? Do they like when you sing? do they like when you chase them? do they like when you tickle them or squeeze their feet? Do they like when you use a cookie monster voice?
Be what your child enjoys, as you know, your child’s sole purpose in life is seeking out what they like and they do it with a laser pointed persistence. The more you become the thing that interests and motivates them, the more communicating and interacting is in their best interest.
That’s the key, it isn’t about “look at me. Great here’s your cookie” it’s about “look at me because when you do I make you laugh, I help you, I give you love and adoration, I am a huge source of enjoyment!”
“Transactions” are for getting your child to do chores, “You want to go to Target and get a toy? Great, clean your room!”… “Interactions” are for inspiring your child to WANT to be social!