We were asked to visit Joe, an 8 year old boy whom we had visited previously. Joe has complex needs and has some vocabulary that he uses to communicate. On this particular day we were asked to visit Joe on his own in a separate room because he had been very unsettled in class. Staff requested a Clowndoctors visit to try to engage and calm him.

When we arrived, Joe was in his wheelchair with his head hanging low. We arrived with an up-tempo Hello song that we remembered he had responded to in previous visits. Joe lifted his head and said “hello”. He lowered his head again and, as he did Dr Squash mirrored him and slowly fell down below Joe’s wheelchair. Dr. Wallop offered Joe a stretchy worm prop to help pull Dr. Squash back up. When Joe made eye contact with Dr Squash we sang a “Hello Squash” song and, after a pause, Joe joined in. With Wallop’s encouragement, Joe let go of the worm and Squash fell down again, Joe laughed and he reached his hand towards the worm, appearing to start the game again. We repeated this a few times led by Joe and when Squash made eye contact, Joe would sing the “hello” song and he seemed to be trying to say “Squash” at the appropriate part of the song. Joe seemed engaged and calm throughout the visit. After the session, staff told us that Joe was able to return to class and be with his peers.

We learned the benefit of regular visits to this school and getting to know the children and learn triggers that can enable us to quickly make playful and authentic connections that benefit the child and the wider school community.

Dr Wallop and Dr Squash