Group focus

When working in a group on content creation the environment is particularly important to pay attention to as it can offer support or it can require more attention than the tasks themselves. Being able to block out what is happening around you requires those whose job it is to manage the environment to make continual adjustments to match the demands of what is attempting to be completed and monitor the individuals workloads and skills as the task progresses within ‘that’ environment.

Differences in opinions can simply be a reflection of differences in skill levels, yet this can cause significant interruptions and require significant teacher or adult time to manage.

Time management within a group task or within a group setting can be a challenge for some. Knowing where to look and where to direct your attention needs to be specifically taught and the actual skills required can vary significantly per task per environment and per the people present. Knowledge of your own ways of using time need to be documented in your own internal tool set so that you can recognise which tool is the most appropriate to use at that particular time. Being able to be flexible in how you learn and how you interact with others is hugely valuable as a skill in a group setting. But that assumes that you, as an individual, actually want to be in that setting. Hidden anger or distress can be masked within time management skills and how these present to those around you. Knowledge of the actual hidden skills and their purposes based on the ‘whole’ big picture of what is happening includes documenting this level of detail. Documenting their observations to assist with communicating to others across all areas and at all levels of details can be helpful for others such as parents and teachers to learn for managing individual and group situations across all and any environment. Active participation by the parents and their children during therapy sessions help generalise these skills across other settings so that they can use these skills without the Occupational Therapist present. Ongoing feedback on progress is then discussed at each therapy session to measure what is working or not working and where adjustments need to be made etc. A different format of working relationship with an Occupational Therapist may be necessary where there is communication over the course of the week rather than just during therapy sessions. This can be adjusted as needed.

Being able to analyse your own contribution to a group setting or group environment is also of significant importance. Everyone’s behaviour is being viewed by others all the time. Students often struggle to provide sequential feedback about what happened when recounting their experience within a group setting yet when prompted with task specific details can provide a form of their own ‘clinical reasoning’ as to why they made those decisions. Being able to communicate your own internal thoughts to others may be visible in your own movements or it may be hidden dependent on the task being completed or being asked to be completed at the request of others.

Sources of information within a group task can have significant impact on success or failure of the task that was asked to be completed. Thinking through the goal or purpose of a group interaction to the physical movement steps to be walked through is a different way to look at what success in social skills are. For some individuals and their families simply getting through an afternoon get together without any challenging behaviours is the definition of success. For others, being able to go outside of the house for a get together (regardless of the location) is the definition of success. Yet for others, these goals are no where near enough. What happens when some individuals look at success for a get together as being sharing meals outdoors in different restaurants and being able to explore their surroundings to eat in a new place every time. Being able to identify an individuals goals versus the goals of the group versus the goals of who gets to design the activity for the group is important when looking at health and wellbeing and balance for all involved.