frozen in a false sense of doing

by thankfeldenkrais

To continue to progress,
And find his movement capabilities,
Isaac needs to find flexion.

To use his arms,
To supinate his hands,
To come forward in space,
Is only possible with incorporated flexion –
Curling of the upper chest,
The shoulders,
The neck –

Yet with extension Isaac’s dominating default setting,
It is proving extremely challenging to break the bias,
Long enough for him to start utilising flexion,
As an option in movement.

Every time he goes from all fours to w sitting or high kneeling,
His back contracts in extension with dominant force,
Every time he tries to pull apart a piece of play-doh,
His shoulders and elbows throw back in invoked spasm.
Shoulder girdle locked as one immovable component.
His neck stiff in extension,
As he repeatedly opts to lead with throwing the head backward,
When he transitions anywhere through space,
Which in turn creates even more undue tension through his entire face.
So instilled is the idea that pulling back,
Is how he comes forward.

And he does it because it is effective for him,
For now,
In many capacities,
But what he doesn’t know,
Is how it obstructs what’s beyond this point –
For sit to stand,
For talking,
For walking,
For writing –
All rely on mobility in the upper body,
The neck,
The chest,
The shoulder girdle,
The ability to move between flexion and extension,
In order to find movement,
And to perform it without expending wasted energy in the process.

If it were as easy as sitting him down,
For a tête-à-tête,
To explain to him to soften,
To mobilise his shoulder girdle,
To utilise flexion over extension,
When coming up right,
Or changing direction,
And the benefits of doing so,
We would see immediate gains.
But it isn’t that simple,
And his three-year-old self,
Would take one look at me,
Smile his captivating smile,
And continue on his way with his commendable,
I got this attitude,
His whatever mum glint in his eyes,
And his overactive extensor muscles firing in his wake.

But as always,
Hope is not lost,
We just become focused on how to teach his body flexion,
By integrating it into so much more of what we do –
In sitting and bending forward to collect blocks,
In sitting and turning to gather blocks from either side – reaching across the body,
Face down lying over a swiss-ball rocking back and forth,
Hugging – either wrapping himself in his own arms,
Or a teddy or toy,
Swinging him in a sarong as he curls in the foetal position,
Taking his shoes off lying on his back,
Curling his upper body by lifting his legs and bottom off the ground,
Playing games lying on his back,
So he can use his arms,
But can’t throw his elbows or shoulders backwards.

flexion mar14

And as always,
Making sure the difficulty of the task is not beyond him,
And that the spasm doesn’t take over,
As he tenses up in order to try,
Trying
shouldn’t mean effort,
But currently Isaac relates the two directly,
Inseparable.

So while we can’t magically change his habits purely with words,
What we do begin to say to him,
That he can relate to since learning the joys of play-doh and stress balls,
To help reduce the tension,
And the relationship he has with effort, is –
Don’t squeeze.

Don’t squeeze your entire body,
When a small collective part of you can do the job more easily,
When you give them the opportunity to play their role,
Rather than being frozen in a false sense of doing.

And then we can start to see more freedom in the arms,
The neck,
The face,
The shoulders.
He will find more accuracy,
More finesse,
More possibilities,
And to use the word of the system  – reduced spasticity.

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