Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joint Attention and my Favorite Band

Tonight, my husband and I went to see my favorite band play in Raleigh. It was a fabulous evening of gorgeous music and just general fun.

I tried to be in the moment during the show, and I was struck by how much that increased my enjoyment of the experience. At one point, the band was singing a song about how "sometimes rain that's needed, falls," and the crowd all around me was singing those same lyrics, and I realized that almost everyone in the whole theater was sharing in this beautiful quiet moment of joint attention. Which was rather transcendent, actually.

That moment got me thinking about how people bond.

I teach social skills groups to children with autism, ADHD, and general difficulty with social language skills at work each week. The last 2 weeks, we've focused on "making friends." We've learned about how to choose which person might make a good friend, how to learn about that person, how to ask about his/her favorite topics each time you see him/her, and how to judge whether your friendly gestures are being taken well or not.

But, we have not focused on what makes some friendships "click." On how to bond with friends. Which is ultimately my goal for each of my get them to the point where they are able to bond with others.

The interesting thing to me here, is that this band we went to see tonight, it's not my husband's favorite band. It's mine. Yet he indulged me; he entered into my interest. And we shared a beautiful bonding experience together because of that. It deepened our relationship to share joint attention together.

So this week, I'm going to remember that my students (and my family, too, for that matter!) really want me to come and see their favorite "band." To stand and listen and watch the things they really love. To have me appreciate the things they find amazing.

Hopefully I can do just that.

Have you indulged friends' or family members' or students' interests and reaped the reward of a stronger connection? I'd love to hear about it!

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