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Level 2, Proactive: intentionally makes or controls sound

Observation

People make or control sounds deliberately. They may do so through an increasing variety of means – by vocalising or through direct contact with a musical instrument or other soundmaker, or by using an interface such as a switch or ultrasonic beam. They may come to show increasing control over what they do, and may intentionally make a variety of sounds. They may increasingly express their feelings through the sounds they make. They may produce sounds intentionally in a range of contexts, or as part of multisensory activity, or both.

Interpretation

People have a sense of agency, with the necessary cognitive and motor capacities to produce or control sounds intentionally, potentially with an affective component.

P-2

Resources designed for particular groups are available as follows:

For a video explaining about Sounds of Intent in the context of complex needs, go to: https://ambertrust.app/sound-touch/services/working-with-visually-impaired-children-with-complex-needs/stories/the-stories-of-aaron-alice-drew-felix-and-jack/

P.2.A makes sounds intentionally, potentially through an increasing variety of means and with greater range and control

Individuals deliberately make sounds. Their intentionality may be shown through noticeable anticipation, a consistent response (see R.2.A) or the efforts they make to do the same thing again. They make sounds in one way or more than one, and the nature of the sounds they make may vary.

Strategies

Sounds can be made intentionally in a variety of ways, depending on a person’s capacity to vocalise and to act on their environment. Vocally, even the tiniest of sounds can be amplified and/or modified and/or looped using a microphone and commercially available software. In terms of movement, any part of the body can be involved: hands and arms, feet and legs, trunk and head, the mouth and even the eyes (using specialist technology). Pressure can be exerted by pushing or pulling, or through blowing or sucking through a tube. Different soundmakers may require shaking, tapping, slapping, rubbing, scratching, plucking or bowing. The key thing is to match the opportunities that are offered to a person for sound-making with their physical abilities and preferences. Once the ability and willingness to make a particular sound through a certain means is established, encourage extension and diversification. If someone enjoys briefly shaking bells that are attached to their right wrist, can they be encouraged to shake for longer, or louder, or quieter, or getting faster or slower? Can the right ankle be pressed into service in the same way? What about different types of shaker that make other than ringing sounds and perhaps require slightly different movements? Beyond acoustic instruments, as assistive technology advances, ever more combinations of movement and sound are conceivable. It is now possible for any movement – from the wiggle of a toe to the blink of an eye – to be linked to any sound through switches, beams or gesture-recognition technology. Breathe, and a choir can sing. Wink and a full orchestra can sound. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 40]

Context

Shafiq has profound learning difficulties. Here he is waiting in class for the next activity to begin, sitting in his wheelchair with the tray attached.

Observation

Shafiq moves the fingers of his left hand, which produces scratching sounds on his tray. He does this several times in the space of 20 seconds.

Interpretation

There appears to be intentionality in Shafiq’s actions, as the intricate patterns of movement use independent finger extension and flexion, and these are repeated a number of times (compare with I.2.A (a) (1st video)).

Other video of Shafiq

To see similar movements transferred to a musical context, see I.2.B.

Context

Walid has profound learning difficulties. He is taking part in a music session with his class, in which each student has the opportunity to make a sound on their own, to facilitate self-awareness and awareness of others. These sounds are placed in the context of a song to provide a structure for the activity. A flat drum is held on his lap so he can reach it with his left hand.

Observation

Shafiq moves the fingers of his left hand, which produces scratching sounds on the drum. He does this several times in the space of 20 seconds. His playing continues unchanged as a ‘joining in’ song is sung by staff.

Interpretation

As is the case with Shafiq (see P.2.A (a) (1st video)), there appears to be intentionality in Walid’s actions, as the intricate patterns of movement use independent finger extension and flexion, and these are repeated a number of times.

Context

Brandon has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Here, he is working with a Soundbeam (an ultrasonic beam tha functions as a series of invisible MIDI switches in the air), which is directed towards his right hand so that even the smallest movements will cause a sound to be made. The video excerpt is take from near the end of a 30 minute session.

Observation

Brandon moves his right hand with some consistency, causing musical sounds to occur via the beam, which change in response to his movements. As the sounds are made, he moves his mouth and tongue and vocalises softly.

Interpretation

The frequency of Brandon’s movements, which show some variation, and his oral responses to them, suggests that he is making the sounds intentionally and is aware of them.

Other video of Brandon

To see how these movements evolved from apparently non-intentional activity earlier in the session, see P.1.A.

Context

Matthew has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Here, he is working with a MIDIblock, which converts movement to sound through a computer. His music teacher holds the sensor beneath Matthew’s right hand.

Observation

Matthew makes an increasing range of movements with his right hand, causing ever higher cascades of musical sounds to occur up and down a major scale

Interpretation

The growing extent of Matthew’s movements suggests that he is intentionally causing sounds to occur over a greater range.

P.2.B intentionally expresses feelings through sound

Individuals make sounds vocally or through other means that appear to express feelings – and that may be confirmed through other behaviours. For example (notwithstanding individual variation), excitement may be evident through shrieking and rocking; happiness through laughing and flapping; sadness through moaning or crying; and frustration through shouting and banging.

Strategies

Acknowledge people’s expresssions of emotion by imitating the sounds and movements they make and the postures they adopt, although their awareness of your empathetic responses will still be developing (see I.3.A). Set up situations that you know will arouse (positive) emotions in the person you are working with, and encourage them to express their feelings through sound by vocalising yourself (see I.3.B). Make video recordings of the person’s expressions of emotion and see whether they respond when the images and sounds are played back. Such ‘emotional contagion’ is likely to still be developing at this level of functioning. [DOC 41]

Context

Usman has profound learning difficulties. Here, he is working with his music therapist

Observation

The therapist encourages Usman to express his emotions through vocalising. She does this by making vocal sounds similar to those made by Usman, and weaves them into an improvised song, accompanying herself on the guitar. She hopes that, by emulating Usman’s sounds, he will become aware that he can influence what she does, and that she shares his feelings.

Interpretation

The nature of Usman’s vocalisations and his accompanying smile means that it is reasonable to interpret what he does as signs of happiness. It is not clear, at this stage, whether he is yet able to pick up on the music therapist’s imitation of vocal sounds.

Other videos of Usman

To see Usman responding vocally to his therapist singing, see I.2.A (a) (1st video). To see Usman indicating a preference for one sound rather than another go to R.2.B (a) (1st video).

P.2.C produces sounds intentionally in a range of contexts

Individuals deliberately make sounds in a range of contexts (with different people, in different environments, as part of different activities and at different times).

Strategies

Give the person you are working with the opportunity and encouragement to make sounds in different contexts. Some sound-making may be specific to a particular situation – scrunching fallen leaves outside, for example, splashing in the swimming pool, or activating musical sounds through switches in the multisensory room. Others may be more generic – using hand-held percussion instruments, for example, or taking advantage of the sounds available through gesture-recognition technology on a tablet. Remember that the same sound made in different environments may sound different, and an awareness of this will only come through repeated experience. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 42]

Context

‘S’ is playing the keyboard in class with a visiting music teacher who works with him once a week.

Observation

‘S’ plays different clusters of notes, largely using the palm of his right hand though there is some individual finger movement at times, enabling 'S' to press down single keys.

Interpretation

‘S’ is exploring ‘cause and effect’ using the keyboard, and coming to appreciate that different movements of his hand and fingers can produce different sounds.

Other video of ‘S’

To see ‘S’ making musical sounds in a different context, see P.2.C (b) (2nd video).

Context

‘S’ is playing the chimes in the outdoor ‘sound garden’ at his school with his visiting music teacher.

Observation

‘S’ plays the chimes using his right hand, rubbing his palm and fingers against them in a variety of ways, and at one point grasping a large chime and shaking the whole set.

Interpretation

‘S’ is comfortable and confident to make sounds in an outdoor environment, which is acoustically very different from his classroom, and in which a different range of background sounds are present.

Other video of ‘S’

To see ‘S’ making musical sounds in a different context, see P.2.C (a) (1st video).

P.2.D produces sounds as part of multisensory activity

Individuals intentionally produce sounds in association with other sensory stimulation – for example, banging the cymbal and enjoying its glistening, vibrating, reflective surface at the same time as relishing its metallic, resonant ring; or controlling sounds light by moving through an ultrasonic beam.

Strategies

Ensure some of the soundmakers that are available to the person you are working with have pleasing multisensory qualities – potentially including touch (warm/cool, rough/smooth, heavy/light), vibration and colour. You will need to be especially observant to gauge which aspect or aspects of multisensory production an individual is attracted to: is it the light bouncing off the little bells they are playing, for example, or the sound they make – or both of these things acting together? To ascertain how a person’s perception works, try offering other soundmakers that make similar sounds but look different (giving someone the opportunity to play matt bells rather than shiny ones, for example), or that look similar but make different sounds (such as bells whose clappers have been muted). Use what you discover to plan more multisensory experiences. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 43]

Context

La Shay is at school in a special multisensory environment, which is dark and quiet, with peripheral disturbance excluded as far as possible. Coloured light is projected onto a gauze that hangs from the ceiling. A Soundbeam is set up to the side to catch any movement of the material.

Observation

La Shay sweeps at the gauze with both hands, causing the Soundbeam to play cascades of notes. She vocalises.

Interpretation

La Shay appears to relish the multisensory experience, and may connect the light, the sounds and the feel of the gauze with the movements she makes. Opportunities for her to explore cause and effect in other multisensory environments could reinforce these connections.

Assessment

The complete Sounds of Intent assessment matrix is to be found here [DOC 60] and downloadable assessment sheets here. [DOCS 61 & 62]

Emerging

Intentionally makes or causes one type of sound

Example 1

Freya is five years old. She has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Her mother has been trying to engage her by suspending various soundmakers within easy reach when she lies on a mat, and Freya has recently been attracted to a birghtly coloured chain of little bells that she bats with her left hand.

Example 2

Steve is 13. He has profound and multiple learning difficulties. He vocalises with evident pleasure when he sees certain key people in his life, including his one-to-one helper at school and members of his close family.

Achieving

Intentionally makes or causes two different types of sound in two different ways

Example 1

Dennett is six. He has profound and multiple learning difficulties, with very limited movement. However, he enjoys rustling crinkly paper, and will move a small egg-shaker to and fro when it is placed in his right hand.

Example 2

Aletheia is 14 years old. She has profound and multiple learning difficulties. She has some movement in her right leg, and her teaching assistant has noticed that her movements become more vigorous when a Soundbeam is used to convert her kicks into loud percussive sounds. Aletheia also vocalises from time to time, in short, low-pitched bursts.

Excelling

Intentionally makes or causes three or more different types of sound in three or more different ways

Example 1

Matthew is in his thirties. He has profound and multiple learning difficulties. He can make sounds in a number of different ways, including banging percussion instruments (such as drums and tambourines) that are placed on his tray, shaking maracas, vocalising and playing a keyboard with the flat of his hand.

Example 2

Imogen is two. She has severe learning difficulties. She has a box of soundmakers that her parents have collected for her, which she enjoys exploring on her own. They include a cluster of small bells, a rainstick, a shaker, a cabassa and toy guitar.