Thank Feldenkrais!

A road much travelled, but on no ones road map – Cerebral Palsy found me when my son was born – we might have prayed to Buddah or to the universe but we Thank Feldenkrais everyday! This is our journey.

that is education

And in what feels like the blink of an eye,
But also a lifetime,
We find ourselves doing orientation for kindergarten.

And I have to swallow the lump that sits in my throat,
As we endeavour to embark on yet another brand new world,
One that must grow once more,
Bringing with it a whole new set of requirements,
A swagger of questions,
Possible conflicts,
And undoubtedly increased exposure,
As yet an even brighter spotlight turns on Isaac,
One that I’m beginning to find harder and harder to shield him from.

But the excitement is bubbling also,
As I take secret glances at my baby,
Who is transitioning into a boy before my eyes,
Who holds himself with such confidence,
And nonchalance,
That I have to marvel at his bravery,
His strength,
And remain optimistic that he will take everything in his stride,
As he has always done so far.

But as we take the first steps into the jungle of school transition,
My primitive instincts take charge,
Protection mechanisms are high,
Seemingly beyond my control,
I’m like a lioness,
Ready to pounce,
At the slightest hint of danger.

I’m skeptical,
Because we must judge everything,
On any given moment,
For every aspect of his learning,
And it seems a mountain so vast,
That despite my adrenaline surging me forward,
There’s just still so much ground to cover.

And they beg us for answers we do not have,
Because while I know him completely,
The environment is so unknown.

Trial-and-error seems too risky,
Time-will-tell seems too defeatist,
And yet this is reality.

But please don’t make assumptions of him,
It’s now my turn to beg,
See him beyond what you think you know,
If you must assume anything,
Assume nothing is going to hold him back.

And get to know him,
And see how he surprises even those who know him the best,
At every turn he takes.

And more than anything,
Give him time.

Time to move,
Time to respond,
Time to speak,
Time to shine.

Time to be Isaac,

We can’t yet say what a day to day,
Week to week schooling life will look like for Isaac,
Whether he will sustain his strength to walker,
Whether he’ll be understood clearly enough by speech alone,
If the power wheelchair will become his go-to mode of transport,
If his peers will see him for who is beyond the equipment,
And teachers aids.

And most selfishly,
Will he cope without me?

Am I ready to have him in the hands of the department,
Entrusting them to care for him,
And meet his needs,
And help him to excel in all aspects of his learning?

I fear I am not,
But Isaac is.

And this is what I must trust in.

Trust that despite desk heights,
Toilet rails,
Lunch benches,
And curriculum,
Isaac wants this rite of passage,

And trust that he will guide us,
Confide in us,
Teach us,
Teach them,
Make his mark,
Grab every opportunity,
With pride and determination.


And while the prospect of kindy is daunting,
The road of schooling is long,
And like any learning,
Definitely will not be linear,
Possibly even more windy for Isaac,
But we can take as many turns,
And pit-stops as necessary,
Because it’s the journey,
Not just the destination.

And as always,
He will embrace his uniqueness,
Celebrate his differences,
Embody true courage,
Display strength of character,
And show us all how to just-get-on-with-it.

And that is education.

Here we go!

The End of Chapter Twenty


one habit for another

With the focused work on sitting,
In preparation for Isaac starting school,
Which has been so vital for his increased stamina,
Finding the support from his bottom,
For writing,
And drawing,
We’re now seeing a loss of his legs and walking.

The unrelenting frustration,
Of his compromised nervous system,
Sees a continual game of tag,
Swapping one habit for another.

Now that the upper half is behaving beautifully,
Leaning forward,
Less throwing into extension,
It’s his lower half that’s gone missing,
Throwing his legs behind him,
As if an after thought,
As if he doesn’t need them,
As if his association with them now if to use them behind the rest of his body,
And now taking place is a compulsion to step backwards,
As if getting them out of the way,
In preparation for moving.

And while we absolutely must appreciate just how much is going on,
In his nervous system,
How much he has to overcome,
In order to do what he does,
And marvel at just how vast the organisations of peoples systems can be,
And what they’re still able to achieve,
Including Isaac,
And yet the aching weight,
Of constantly trading one improved function,
For the price of losing another,
Is real,
And testing.

Botox injections roll around again,
And we go through the process,
As we grapple with reconnecting his lower limb with his self image,
Out of desperation to fire up his quads,
And seek to help him find his tall legs in standing,
By showing him how to have them under his hips,
Truly relying on them to stand,
And raising the bottom,
Taking weight from one leg to the other,
And allowing his top half to be forward and soft,
At ease.


And we always return to coming forward,
Everything about balance relies on maintaining a centre of gravity,
Which for any of us,
If thrown too far back,
Into too much extension,
We become fearful,
And unstable.

And while we’ve seemingly tapped into Isaac’s organisation,
While seated,
With a much better understanding of coming forward,
The translation once more,
In taking it into standing,
Is lost.

Until we insist on it.


By taking away the option to go into extension,
Or pull the arms back.

But will it last?
Or will he default straight back into old habits?

For now at least.

Will it always be a constant trade off?


But what that might mean for his overall function,
Only time will tell.

And all we can do,
As I keep saying,
As I keep being reminded,
Is continue to heed off things that would prevent him from doing,
Or progressing to,
Something else later down the track.

And for now,
That seems to mean grabbing one skill,
While dropping another,
But we have to be OK with it.

While being there,
As the extra hands,
To pick up the fallen pieces,
And equipped to pass them back to him,
When he’s ready.

break the symmetry

While in medical circles,
They refer to Isaac’s Cerebral Palsy,
With negative conontations,
As Asymmetric Spactic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy,
Because he presents with more tone or “spasticity” on his right side,
And greater function with his left hand,
And in their eyes left leg,
With the ultimate goal being to create symmetry,
Or otherwise to change his structure.

And yet our practitioner explains how in fact,
Isaac’s system still primarily functions in symmetry,
In so far as,
He isn’t familiar with one half/side/muscle group “doing” the opposite,
Or something different to the other,
Which in actual fact is doing him no favours,
And limits function,
Because we rely on asymmetry for so much of what we do,
And our goal is in fact to break the symmetry.

And strive for asymmetry!

Highlighting yet again,
Just how vastly different the understanding of movement is,
In those circles.

And how much focus is still placed,
On the appearance over the function.


For Isaac,
His reluctance (or rather unfamiliarity) in breaking the symmetry is very noticeable in his hip flexors (front of hips).

For Isaac is very proficient at knee walking,
Where both sides of his hip flexors,
Can behave the same (symmetrically) in order to walk.

And yet when in half kneeling,
The assymmetry of the hip flexors –
With one long on the side the knee is in contact with the floor,
And the other is short,
With the leg up in half kneeling, foot on floor –
Causes much confusion for his system.

half kneeling nov 16

The ability to be asymmetrical is directly linked to weight-shift,
And understanding where to bear weight,
In order for the other side to be light and free,
Be shorter or longer,
Up or down,
Back or forward.

And in this case,
When on right knee Isaac has greater success,
Because his right side has always been better at taking weight,
While when on the left knee it becomes vastly more challenging,
And the entire organisation changes,
And we see extreme pulling to side bending – shortening the right side of trunk,
As the left side rarely is responsible for taking weight or stabilising.

It is also made easier with the ability to come forward,
Which is as you know,
An ongoing pursuit.
(And in the instance of half kneeling the use of a stool in front of him to lean onto is vital),
In hope of breaking the dominance of coming up,
Or pulling back,
And replace it with coming forward.

And by attaining this asymmetry,
And the ability to come forward,
By reducing the pull backwards,
And giving him the options of where he can bear weight,
It will endeavour to help Isaac to his feet.

And none if this draws any focus,
To the structural look,
Or passive scoring,
Of his body,
And its muscle lengths.

And any of us should be so lucky to have a title,
Of Asymmetric!


learning is never linear

The focus on helping Isaac sit,
And complete tasks in sitting,
To be ready for starting school continues.

All the work in coming forward,
More imperative than ever,
As we ask of his system to readily call on,
Anterior tilt of the pelvis,
To give him that ability of becoming tall through his torso,
While coming forward,
And how that translates further into coming up right into standing.

(Which is not easy or effective when tucking and contracting at the front of the hips,
And rolling backwards on a curved lower back,
A powerful bias for Isaac).

Yet things are tracking nicely,
As our regular hourly session three times a week continue,
With the consistency of reminding a system,
Still so prone to biases that work against easy function,
To dampen,
And let the advantageous choices shine through.

And he is making gains.

Which makes any interruptions in his therapy,
So hard to bear,
When the result is loss of function.

And while holidays are doused in love,
Happy memories,
And not to be missed,
My stomach is in knots at their conclusion,
As the reality of how many steps we’ve taken backwards,
Hit home violently.

I’m heavy with the burden of how we re-climb a mountain,
When it was hard enough the first time,
Stress building as a physical weight in my every bone.

And my mind races to justifying why we can never go away for extended periods again,
Unless a therapy based trip,
As it simply isn’t worth the set backs.

But thankfully (in this instance),
My susceptibility to exaggeration,
And my cosy relationship with negative thoughts,
Are somewhat misplaced,
And while yes,
Isaac has once more lost the sense of his pelvis (no anterior tilt),
Is locked up more than we’ve seen in ages,
A stranger to his lower legs,
And absent of the finesse we began to witness in his movements,
All is not lost.

And I feel my panic begin to dissolve,
My breath returning to me,
And I visibly grow a few inches taller,
Out from under the invisible weight,
Of guilt, fear and paranoia.

For we can reintroduce Isaac to his pelvis,
And begin picking up what’s been lost,
After a month abroad,
And what’s more,
Which really excites our practitioner,
Is the vast improvement in his spontaneous movement ,
His ability to transfer skills to new tasks effortlessly,
Like the first time Isaac is given the opportunity to use a manual wheelchair,
His ability to self propel himself without being shown,
Is something to be applauded.

And I’m reminded of two very important lessons,
As I feel a little dizzy again,
With hope.

The first being,
We can only propose things to Isaac,
Try it out,
See how he goes,
And if it doesn’t work,
Try something else.

Not everyone response to the same things,
Or in the same ways.

And secondly,
Learning in never linear.

Learning is an apprenticeship of hours,
Of trial and error,
Of doing,
And doing again,
And no two paths will be identical,
And that path certainly will not be direct.

We do know for Isaac,
Certain parts of himself,
Are present and available,
On his knees he has exceptional modulation of his hip extensors,
And yet what we don’t have is how that manages over two joints at a time (hip and knee),
As the hamstrings have two ends to contract one at sit-bone,
Other behind the knee,
Or quadriceps to counter the pull of the hamstring,
Which currently is not understood by Isaac’s system,
And is very much required for effective use of the leg as a whole,
To say the least.

And we can bring it all back to the fact,
That Isaac never had the apprenticeship.

And yet we are still seeing,
Him achieve as much as he is,
And that again is noteworthy,
In and of itself.

And as always thankfully,
The Method,
And our practitioner have tricks,
To entice Isaac’s system into learning those that were missed,
And as I see him sitting tall and stable,
Atop a postal tube,
(Which one might think would make him less stable and yet interestingly instead it seemingly recruits more muscles which help him perform!)
Creating the AWOL pelvic tilt,
And giving unprecedented freedom to use his hands,
I know that life can never stop,
To meet therapy needs,
And that what we are building for Isaac,
Are deep-seeded long term functional abilities,
That while weaving in and out of his everyday,
And flat out missing for days at a time,
Will sprout again,
And more often than not,
As a brighter,
More elegant bloom.

And with roots that are here to stay,
With the resilience they need,
To last a lifetime.

the holy grail

Where possible,
You need to be responsible for your own movement in space.

If you don’t move yourself through space,
You don’t learn to negotiate your surroundings,
Or build spatial relationships.

I was told of a study where subjects were given glasses that changed their spatial awareness through vision (depth/distance perception I believe was compromised),
And despite the vast change,
The subjects walking themselves through space were able to recalibrate to negotiate their surroundings within thirty minutes of wearing the glasses,
While subjects in wheelchairs who were being moved by others,
Had no change,
If wearing the glasses or not.

(If I find the study,
I’ll post it!)

We are extremely fortunate that Isaac has the ability to move himself through space,
And therefore has developed spatial awareness,
To a certain degree.

What is fundamentally missing,
For Isaac however,
(Among other things like his self image excluding his lower leg),
Is a clear relationship to the direction his body (or part of) needs to be going,
In space,
In order to generate a clearer,
Easier movement.

Primarily for him,
Coming forward.

Coming forward,
Has never been in Isaac’s repertoire.

His understanding of movement,
Has undoubtedly been bombarded,
With the urge to pull back.

(Not to be confused with choosing to move backwards,
Which is vastly different,
And imperative to balance,
When retrieving,
And re-positioning oneself)

(Which still invariably requires parts of yourself to come forward,
In order to retain said balance).

Isaac’s pull-back,
Is directly linked to his over-efforting,
His sense of trying,
Still typically invoking a squeezing response,
And this presents as a pulling in,
And a sense of becoming smaller (which I’ve talked about in his sitting),
Sending him backwards.

So we must help Isaac to come forward,
Forward in sitting,
In plunging over a roller,
In standing,
And in walking.

The one that mind-boggles our practitioner the most,
In that walking is essentially an action of falling forward,
With the ability to stop yourself by stepping your legs as you go,
And organising the rest of your body to change shape accordingly,
In order to stay upright,
And yet,
The paedeatric walker market,
Is flooded only by posterior (back) walkers!

Which fundamentally,
Gives the opposite feedback to a system,
Of what independent walking actually is.

And which is why Isaac has a Kaye walker,
With the legs swapped around,
So it operates as an anterior walker).

And therefore the more we can encourage Isaac forward,
The greater his chances are for,
Continual advantageous development.

Which we of course hope will lead to independent walking,
(As the holy grail of movement),
But continues to open up all possibilities,
In movement,
Including voice production,
Vision (eye control),
Hand function,
And beyond.


And furthermore,
Giving him more choices,
In moving himself through space,
And allowing him to continue building,
Strong relationships with his surroundings,
With increased awareness,
Of his environment,
And his participation in it.

And of course his overall sense of purpose,
In doing things for himself.
(As the holy grail of life!)

digest it greedily

So many pearls of wisdom,
Washing over me,
Filtering through me,
Being absorbed by me,
As the workshop continues.

But I force myself,
Despite going against my natural instincts,
Not to frantically take notes,
In my ever growing notebooks,
In order to be fully present,
And feel my awareness expand,
Sit with my learning,
And digest it greedily,
There and then.

And so I learn.

I learn about posture,
Meaning to be at ease,
With the least amount of effort,
To be ready to respond without needing to bring yourself back to the middle (or at ease position),
Before responding.

I learn about the three key influences of movement;
Timing (the speed at which we act/move),
Orientation (of our own body/to the environment or space around us),
Manipulation (how the body organises and responds)
And how we can play with,
And alter these in order to change our own built-in biased patterns of movement.

I learn about my own self image,
Where I feel my body is in space,
How I feel my movements occurring,
What my self image is missing,
And therefore what actions feel completely foreign .

And just how very different,
What I think I am doing is,
To what movement/stance is actually happening.

Because my awareness is actually very limited,
Despite my seeming,
Competence to move.

And I love,
Am blown away by,
How the application of these lessons,
Whether it be an eye movement exploration exercise,
Or a breathing series,
Just how much more awareness I was able to bring to myself.

And how after each ATM (Awareness Through Movement),
I was by far more at ease.

And just how much spare energy,
Being at ease left me with,
To function with a greater sense of clarity,
In my thinking,
My movement,
My sense of purpose.

It was the first real taste,
I’ve had,
Of just how it must feel for Isaac,
To be given such clarity,
To his often confused nervous system,
And incomplete self image.

Just how much relief it must bring him,
To each and everything he does.


I’ve had a sampler,
And now I’m as hungry as ever,
For more.

It seems like total commonsense,
Once you’ve been shown,
But it’s absolute genius,
Because we are all still so very very unaware.

And I want to shout it louder than ever,
From all the rooftops everywhere,

The End of Chapter Nineteen.

it simply has to be

After over five years of applying The Feldenkrais Method,
Directly to Isaac’s development,
It’s my turn,
And I’m bursting with excitement,
At finally attending a four day Feldenkrais Fundamentals Workshop.

And by day one,
I feel lighter on my feet,
While grounded in my soul.

And I feel increasingly inspired.

The loudest take home message for me,
Something Moshe would say in so many words;
You can’t be responsible for someone else’s learning.

Which I find solace in,
In so far as feeling permitted,
To pass the baton in our relay,
Back to Isaac,
With confidence,
That he will take hold of it,
And run his life’s race,
In a way that’s meaningful to him.

Our roles,
As mum,
And practitioner,
Is to continually present an environment,
Conducive of learning,
Which we cannot will upon Isaac,
But rather encourage,
And entice his interest.

And by using such methods of Feldenkrais,
We’re presenting to him,
And possibility,
Of the highest level,
For optimal educational outcomes,
Through movement and awareness.

But still,
He will take of it what he will.


And today,
That seems enough,
Because it simply has to be.

And as always the smile on his face,
Brings me home,
And I know,
He is always enough.

No matter what.