There is definitely something to be said for the quiet life.
And never seen more so,
Or more obviously than for Isaac,
During this global pandemic.
His system has lived a life of over-demand,
From the moment his blue little oxygen depleted body arrived in the world,
He has been efforting.
He had to fight to stay here,
And his every action since has been bombarded with excessive challenge.
Stemming directly from his brain injury,
As his messages and neural pathways sparked,
And misfired in all directions,
His system was hijacked,
And everything manifested exponential effort.
From the moment he began his Feldenkrais journey,
He has learnt how to quiet his nervous system,
To reduce the tension indistinguishable from trying to do,
In order for his intentions to translate into a successful function.
And he has done this over nine years,
Yet remarkably well,
With the consistent and continued reminder,
And guidance through The Feldenkrais Method.
But certain environments,
Placing layers of expectation on him,
Building an increase in demand,
Can as quickly undo all the learned behaviour of limiting the squeeze of tension.
And none more so than being at school,
For a boy as determined,
As academically inspired as Isaac.
Because he never wants to miss a beat.
He’s always seen himself as one of the group,
Ready to participate,
Just as any other,
And he remains in the drivers seat to make that happen.
And to his credit,
He can do this well,
And his way,
But the greater the expected outcome,
The greater demand on Isaac’s system,
And thus the more his patterns of tensing up,
Because his system is being overloaded.
And most obviously seen,
When attempting fine motor tasks,
Such as writing,
Or navigating a touchscreen.
Which by the time you’re in third grade,
Are the biggest components of your schooling day.
The issue then becomes,
Not purely that attempting fine motor tasks,
Or verbally contributing to the class,
Becomes less successful within themselves,
But the spill-over effect,
Of attempting these tasks,
Day in day out,
Have on all of him.
His entire movement organisation,
Is under undue stress.
His system once more becomes a slave to old patterns of tension,
And suddenly parts of himself,
And functional actions that are otherwise available to him,
Under the right circumstances,
Become virtually impossible to perform.
And then there was home-schooling.
During the Covid 19 lockdown period,
Where Isaac was working from home,
He was in close proximity to his work/play environments,
He was given much more time to complete tasks,
He was scribed for on a more regular basis,
He took more breaks,
He was under no pressure to perform,
And the improvements within his system as a whole,
Which had been improving,
Jumped leaps and bounds,
To where he was on a nature walk of over half a kilometre without a walking aid,
He was negotiating hills,
And uneven ground like we’d never witnessed.
The freedom within his shoulder girdles was unprecedented,
And suddenly we’re seeing movement within the wrists and fingers,
We’d never seen before.
His speech was the clearest it had been since he was saying single word replies,
He was again able to produce a “t” sound at the ends of words,
He was saying “Dad” instead of as “Yag” as it had become,
He was able to bring his lips together to form a “p” sound,
And I was hearing his beautiful little voice saying “mummy” with both clarity and ease.
His tongue was mobilising,
His jaw was softening,
And his face in far less tension.
And all this manifesting from an environment,
Albeit forced upon us,
That reduced the demands,
And that allowed him to work at his own pace,
Not according to a predetermined schedule.
And completing his much loved school work,
In a successful balance between independence and support.
Independence in thinking,
While supported in the physical production of content.
We’ve returned to fulltime face to face schooling,
And within a week we’ve seen the creeping in,
Of old tension,
As the demands on his system build once more.
And we need to find a balance,
Of how Isaac can be at school,
Where he is at his happiest,
Without undoing all this gains.
What this looks like,
We don’t yet know.
We must tread delicately so Isaac doesn’t feel like we are taking away his independence,
We must be tactful so he doesn’t feel railroaded by others taking over,
We must be clever in our approach so he doesn’t feel isolated socially,
Or self conscious among his peers,
And we must do it quickly,
Before another set of expectations becomes his norm,
And he refuses to do it any other way.
And we are back on the CP merry-go-round once more.
But until his fine motor,
Or talking loud enough for a classroom of kids to hear him,
Is available to him in all circumstances,
Which is absolutely the end goal,
We must limit them now in order to preserve the possibility for their longevity,
And the possibility of improving beyond their current ability.
To many, this philosophy may seem contradictory;
Do less to achieve more,
But I’ve been immersed in The Method long enough now,
I’ve witness enough wow moments with Isaac,
To vouch wholeheartedly for its merits.
And while the negotiation,
In finding the balance that satisfies Isaac,
Is the delicate piece to this puzzle,
I’m confident we can find it.
Because after all,
Isaac can understand when we say to him,
What we hope for,
Is for you to be able to perform all tasks,
As effortlessly as it is for you to put your finger on your nose,
While resting on your back.
“You mean like this?”
The End of Chapter Twenty-Nine.