If you think your life is difficult, try living inside autism. J comes for short intensives every couple of months. He does not use words, makes a little bit of eye contact, and still wears diapers for those small mishaps. It’s hard for his mom because she also has a younger son and needs to tend to her family together.
The first time J came to me for Feldenkrais lessons he had a complete meltdown in the first few minutes. It took him about 1 session to realize I do not put heavy demands on him. As a matter of fact, coming for these kinds of lessons looks a lot like play and definitely filled with love and joy for this beautiful child.
Today Mom came with him saying he was quite “off” this morning. I could tell by his unusual immediate screaming. I asked him if his ears hurt and inside his head, too. His response was immediate as he stopped the screaming and looked directly into my eyes. I responded by putting meditation music on rather than children’s music like we usually do. I could see him breathe a sigh of relief. Yet, it was still very difficult for him to gather himself in any coordinated way.
Rocking chair to the rescue! Let’s move that cerebral spinal fluid. The Cerebral Spinal Fluid bathes the brain and travels down the spinal cord and then back up to the brain. Sometimes, for many different reasons this CSF does not flow easily. It can pool more around the brain, or not travel up easily and fluidly enough. Some results can be terrible headaches and crushing feelings, confusion and difficulty with balance and coordination and much more. Do I know for sure that was what was bothering J? No. But, his behavior was not normal today and he showed to be overwhelmed by life itself in this way. I can say I know him well enough by now to see this, almost like a mother knows her child. If I put myself in his shoes I felt I could feel his feelings.
We used the rocking chair to see if the idea of constant rocking would help. No, he is not a “rocker.” But, it does make you wonder about that, doesn’t it?
We spent about 30 minutes in the rocking chair going forward and back. I used a nice, soft prosodic voice, one that is repeatedly sing songy, but very quiet and simple to help with vagal tone. Eventually I added in gentle touch along his legs and pushing through his feet only at the end.
At about the 30 minute mark, J started to recite his ABC’s and began to count 1-6. All of this unprompted and it was so nice and clear. One could easily see the whole expression and musculature and color on his face had changed. This was the J I have learned to know and love.
By the time he decided he was done and climbed out of his rocking chair to play elsewhere in my studio, he started having a nice quiet conversation of broken words. Something I’ve never heard him do before.
While, I can’t tell you for sure that the problem was of cerebral spinal fluid or not. I treated him in movement as if it could it flow more easily anyway.
The rocking stimulates CSF. It also moves the eyes to change movement along the horizon, therefore stimulating the vestibular nervous system. And this area happens to be right next door to the speech centers. Voila, calmer and happier child who knows himself and begins to talk.
Now, that’s a nice day for J and Mommy.