“Our child needs support, she won’t look or communicate with people” (4 year old, girl)
My client was a four-year old child diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum Disorder. She presented with repetitive hitting behaviors, no words, no eye contact, and little awareness of others.
To engage with her, I took the analogy of a princess in her castle: First, the frame needs to be built horizontally for foundation and comfort; Next, the walls must be placed vertically to allow for stature, and presence in the community; Then finally, the drawbridge needs to be able to open and close, and letting only the finest suitors in for intimacy and connection.
Thus, the session structure followed that order. We started with – horizontal movement. We sat in two separate areas of the room. The child placed any items she’d found (shoes, toys, scarves) around her, just like the foundation walls. She seemed to be protecting herself in a new territory. I paralleled this on my side, mirroring and reflecting back her-own ideas.
In time, she initiated vertical and sagittal, or forward-back, movement. She stood up and peeked over her walls to see my movements. We walked outside of our walls and explored inside of our walls. We explored each other’s space and moved with the same rhythm and timing. We passed items to each other and began to share. She reached out and pressed our hands together, thus connecting with me and allowing me to join in her castle walls. We connected our two spaces together and joined in a dance. We made eye contact! We laughed! She went from hitting walls and her body to using the same hitting rhythm to build, share and connect.
Often, with a child identified on the Autism Spectrum, experts talk about finding the gleam in the child’s eyes, that moment when the child makes a connection. By utilizing the Body Knowledge to move within these specific movement planes and joining the child, as if moving up a developmental ladder, the child makes instant progress and that gleam shines through.
Do you know a family in need of a new story? Everyday I work with children of all ages and their families, finding ways to make their needs heard. Email me at email@example.com or call me at (310) 966-0700 for more information.
Please Note: These stories are based on real moments but all names, ages, and identifying information has been changed to ensure confidentiality and safety for all individuals involved. The events are a composite of related scenarios used to illustrate the work; bringing understanding to the benefits of supporting children through a mind/body connection.
Special Thanks to The Andrea Rizzo Foundation. Dreasdream.org