Description:

The idea for this offering is given to us by a parent and a member of the neurodivergent community.  Many children had aversive therapeutic experiences at the hands of non-affirming therapists or the difficulty with initiating new relationships may be a deterrent to accessing therapy.  An open house allows the children to explore the space without the added pressure of having to interact with a stranger and to experience safe spaces outside of their homes.

How it Works:

First, parents can make a “reservation” for a specific time slot and then complete an intake form about their child’s preferred interests and restrictions.  Please reserve it and consent for each child who will be attending. The reservations are staggered 15 minutes apart to prevent crowding and reduce transitional stress.  A maximum of 4 families will be in the space at any given time.

The therapists will lay out different “offerings” according to the child’s preferred interests (if the items are available).  They will play the role of “human therapeutic plants.”  The therapists will be actively averting eye gaze and we will not speak to the child unless the child initiates and consent to the interaction.  The therapists will engage in preferred interests or quiet activities as a way to invite parallel play.  There are no expectations for the children to join.

There is a trampoline in the backyard and children can use it as long as supervised by their adults. Trampoline can be helpful in terms of transitioning before or after the session.

Facilitator:

Sara Anderson is an autistic counsellor and a gestalt language speaker who is the main facilitator for this program. She may have an assistant or a practicum student.  Neurotypical communication is difficult and exhausting for her.  Sara’s presence is so neutral it feels like a figurative human plant.  She prefers to work with imaginations, animals and plants. To read more about her here. 

This experience is group counselling and may be covered by eligible funding or extended benefits.

This group “happens” at Cherish:

The challenge of catering to this demographic of clients who would be nourished by this event is getting out of the house and experimenting with something new.  Scheduling in advance can be experienced as a demand. Going to new places is a demand. Leaving at the end can be a demand. If we don’t have financial constraints, we would run this event weekly and we know for sure this group would be a success in the long term. 

We now offer this experience as an accesssibility service for children who finds going to a new place and meeting a new therapist too overwhelming. We spontaneous offer this when a client needs to familiarize themselves in the space first before meeting their new therapist. We are also working with the neurodivergent community to find a way to make this experience more accessible and avaliable. 

The math is that we need three reservation within a 90minute slot, to run it. So if you have three kids who wants to sign up, we can schedule this during Sara’s availabilities. 

Please use the comment section to ask any quesiton you may have.