Arriving in the UAE I am picked up at the plane’s stairs and taken to the VIP terminal where I am offered a spa treatment; snack and hot drink as the receptionist flicks through my passport and sorts my VISA out. This isn’t the first time I’ve been to the UAE but it’s my first (and last!) experience of the VIP terminal and it’s mind blowing.
VISA sorted and coffee drank, I declined a spa treatment, I’m whisked into another SUV and driven to my hotel for the stay. I’m not the biggest fan of hotels and this one is pretty standard to all the ones I’ve stayed in in the GCC: the concierge don’t let you touch door handles; you can’t carry your own bag; you’re given a hot towel on arrival and a minty drink of some kind!
Into my room I unpack the week’s resources and my room looks more like a SLT clinic and office now ?. Ready to work I message the family’s PA and I’m picked up by a Royal car and taken to the palace for the first session within 30 minutes. When travelling my sleep routine is absolutely shocking and as such I try and run myself down with work for the first day or so so that I sleep better on a night.
Arriving at the Palace (there are LOTS of palaces in the UAE and whilst it’s grand it’s not a patch on HRH @ Buckingham Palace!) I’m greeted by a chirpy man with a large gun (guns feature a lot in my blog posts you’ll find) and I’m waived in through the front door.
I stand still as I’ve literally just walked into someone’s home and there is no one there to show me where to wait / go. “Hello, it’s…” I say at a slightly louder than normal voice (totally not shouting) and the child’s nanny arrives from an adjacent room and welcomes me to the house. I’m taken to the playroom (literally bigger than the whole downstairs of my home!) to meet the child.
Opening my suitcase to entice the child over I take out my first trusty toy (Mr Potato Head) and begin to take the parts out slowly; keeping myself to myself. The child inches towards me for the next 30 seconds or so until they are adjacent to me and looking at the body parts. I have an ‘in’ and I nonchalantly start playing with them; modelling the language structures I expect (without having chance to get my visuals out). By the end of the interaction the child is requesting using some lovely sentence starters “I’d like…I want…Can I have + body part”.
Moving on I take out my trusty sequencing pictures and allow the child to look at 3-4 cards. Modelling the first sentence I put them in the correct order onto my A5 sheet boxes (where I’ve added the sequencing terms “first…and then…next…finally”. Recalling the skeleton of the story, and using the terms, I tell the child the first story. Next it’s their turn and, as they know what’s expected of them, they put the picture in order and use the terms correctly (not telling the actual story first time). Modelling the story for the child and then asking them to try one more time” they use the sequencing vocal + tell the prominent details of the story.
We work and play for a further 30 minutes before the driver calls the nanny to say my car is ready to go back to the hotel. Super excited for the rest of the trip I pack up and head out.
Every day I’m booked in to work with the child two times per day for 45-60 minutes at a time and then ushered back to the hotel to relax / create resources before being picked up again.
By the end of the week when the driver pulls up outside the front door I knock once; walk in and then make my way to the playroom unaided. I feel, as with all my family’s, the upmost privilege to be welcomed in their family home and by treated with respect.
At the end of the trip we had made lots of lovely progress, and above all, the nanny has a clear programme to work through with the child. As I’m leaving I’m greeted by the Crown Prince who extends his hand and thanks me for the work I have done. “Will you need to return?”, he adds as my bag is placed in the car, “No, I will be in regular contact with the nanny and the child is safe in safe hands“.
On the flight home I write my notes and report on the trip and feel a real sense of pride that I was able to be part of such a lovely piece of work.