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Then there is the GAME CHANGING language...

Updated: 6 days ago

What is it that makes language that sounds good differ from the language I promote when writing ASD Books social stories and why does it matter?

Upon meeting with my childs seasoned special needs teacher the other day - something stood out to me that bugged me and its just been niggling on my mind ever since.

Backtracking, the other week I gave them a copy of Gentle Hands to read to my child when she forgot to use her gentle hands during school. During the meeting the teacher said something along the lines of “We do use positive language we just use safe hands and feet where as you use gentle”. It has been niggling at the back of my mind ever since. Like there is no difference in the outcomes of both of our languages, that both gentle hands and safe hands both produce the same results - which is not what has been reported to occur.

Last week when leaving my child, she struggles with transitions, started to kick me and I reframed my language and said “UH, GENTLE feet!” so immediately she stopped kicking me and started to slap-punch me instead to which I found a break and got out of the school gate.

Now why did she immediately stop kicking me upon my simple phrase and yet the seasoned special needs teacher struggles with these issues on going in class? Is it perhaps that gentle hands / feet is more effective than the language they use - safe hands and feet? Let's explore.

As I have been pondering this scenario, it hit me as to why MY language I choose to use in ASD Books is JUST so VITAL, important, outstanding and all those other big bragging words and do you know what the difference is?

Safe is not an action.

Gentle IS an action.

Safe is a specific perspective that doesnt apply to all children. Safe can be broadly applied to a range of scenarios. Applying safe to hands is like putting stop sign on a swing. It doesnt really gel.

Gentle is an action. Gentle is a physical thing that a body can do. Gentle is tangible. Safe isn’t.

Just like as some describe in an anti-kicking social story and putting the focus on kicking rather than the action you want them to do, safe hands is putting the emphasis on the hands alone, letting the safe part not be tangable.

Gentle is tangable. I can see gentle hands being used everywhere. Yes you could also describle someone writing as using safe hands, but nothing particuarly about the action of writing itself has anything to do with safe, it is important to keep people safe, so does that mean safe hands only apply to when hands are being used with other people?

However if you apply gentle hands and view a classroom you can see gentle hands everywhere. Gentle hands apply when someone is raising their hand for a question. Gentle hands can be used when picking up a toy. Gentle hands can be seen as friends are playing nicely together. But safe hands… safe hands can only really apply to the friendly hands when friends are playing.