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Two Years ‘Playing Around’ with the Feldenkrais Method (Parental consent was given to use the child’s actual name in this article.) By Louise Rothols
In April 2005 a few months prior to graduating from my training, I was fortunate to meet a little girl called Grace. Five years earlier, a few days after her birth, Grace had stopped breathing and had been rushed to hospital. All these years later, she seemed stuck in a time warp without the ability to walk, talk, or express intention or will. There seemed to be so many issues that needed attention – I did not know where to start. So, I simply suggested to her mother that we get together and see if the Feldenkrais method could assist with Grace’s mobility. At that time she was confined to life in her pram. She often wore a ‘second skin’ to keep her upright – it literally held her together. It was also confining. I hoped we could release her from her physical self-confinement.
At our first session, I asked Grace’s mother what she would like to improve for her daughter. Her wish was that Grace could walk and talk. It was a big ‘ask’. Neither of us had any idea of what potential lay hidden before us. Week upon week Grace and I played around using ATM ideas. Sometimes Grace laughed and sometimes she cried and got frustrated, however every now and again there was a kind of stillness and a big yawn and then Grace become animated and fully present in the moment. This was the beginning of attention and concentration; when the experience and sensing of a movement had meaning for Grace.
Grace’s mother continued to bring her daughter despite the fact that it seemed as if little was happening. Well, small changes seemed apparent but nothing miraculous. I reminded myself that I wasn’t promoting miracles; I was there to help Grace ‘learn how to learn’ and movement was the mode through which this would take place.
Grace fell ill from time to time. Illness was a set-back to her development and learning, so her mother started to give her an anti-oxidant ‘tonic’ daily and lo and behold her overall health improved. She was happy, often really happy. Change took place in late 2006, marked by an improvement in her concentration and learning. This was also when Grace showed the desire to be able to walk. This determination and will to be upright and to walk like other people seemed to strengthen as the weeks went by. We played with ATM ideas to build confidence in walking, to improve her upright posture, to make the transition from sitting to standing easier for her, to help her sense her pelvis and the transference of weight from one foot to the other, to create the ‘most dynamic balance possible’ considering her limitations, as well as spending lots of time focusing on developmental movement themes, eye-hand coordination, head-pelvic coordination, spinal flexion – extension and rotation, crossing arms and legs through the midline in different positions, working from, to and across the midline and of course, lots of differentiation.… the list is endless, the possibilities for improvement are endless also.
In between our sessions, Grace would surprise her mother at home by showing new interest in her surrounds and being more independent in her movements. She would practice movements like climbing onto a chair and then climbing off the chair – teaching herself reversibility.
And then about two months ago, Grace started to make clear eye contact and move her head to look right and left, up and down and diagonally because she was interested in all there was to see around her. One day after doing some side-lying movements, she promptly stood up and looked at her mother and started huffing and puffing. She really wanted to communicate something. This was the first time I had seen such outward expression as if she wanted to talk. At school, Grace started walking with her physiotherapist, walking with one hand held for reassurance. She wanted to walk and walk and walk. At home she would try to bend down to pick things up e.g.. from the clothes basket on the floor and she would get excited when viewing cooking programmes on the television.
We are two years down the track and still have a long way to go. I am extremely humbled by having had the chance to experience part of Grace’s slow journey to catch up and make progress with her development. The window has been unlocked, the curtains are open and we can see some light ahead. I put this all down to Grace’s innate intelligence and her hunger for bigger challenges. She appears to not want to let her disability get in the way of her potential ability. This is inspirational and that’s why I call her ‘amazing’ Grace.
This poster has been written by Cindy Allison, a NZ Feldenkrais practitioner.The poster is about how the Feldenkrais method is a form of sensory motor education. The method helps to restore proprioception and coordinated movement, by combining an understanding of the complexities of movement with an understanding of the learning process.
The poster includes research references to studies using
To save the poster on your own computer, right click over the icon and select "Save Target As", select location and save.
Improving Sensory Motor Function after a Spinal Cord Injury. The Feldenkrais approach to sensory motor education.
This article has been written by Cindy Allison, a NZ Feldenkrais practitioner.
booklet is intended for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and their
support crew including family, friends, carers and health professionals.
To save the article on your own computer, right click over the icon and select "Save Target As", select location and save.
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