Nisarga’s development seemed stuck with him sitting hunched, braced against his hands or rather the back of his hands. Looking at some videos of using the Feldenkrais Method with kids and reading and mimicking his posture, I realized that this too is a manifestation of him not using his lower back. His knees turn inward as well and muscle tension is a constant to overcome for most movements. He was not comfortable sleeping on his back, though he is able to sleep on his back easily now after some work I did last month. When crawling, his legs stick straight out and stiff without movement. There is very little self awareness that can be leveraged to help him differentiate these movements enough to alter habitual patterns.
His hands are often clenched and he avoids touch on the palm of his hands, preferring to use the back of his hands to push against the floor. Similarly, he avoids contact with the soles of his feet, lifting his legs if you try to stand him up or not bearing any weight on them. There is hardly any muscle tone. Recent sessions have allowed him to be comfortable resting them on the floor while in a rocking chair or walker, without putting weight on them.
In terms of posture analysis, he is often like a diver in the middle of a somersault. Upper body curved, legs tight together, straight out at an angle. Except he also hunches his shoulders in and his legs turn inward as well.
The Feldenkrais Method resources I found useful for this:
It was easier said than done, but three consecutive movement therapy lessons based on functional integration movements from Yochanan Ryewerant’s book “The Feldenkrais Method: Teaching by Handling” have shown small but definite improvements. I also got many practical ideas from Michelle Turner’s excellent video series on Functional Integration lessons with children using the Feldenkrais Method.
The Feldenkrais Method Functional Integration movements I did:
Self awareness is half the battle. In various functional integration movements, I helped him learn to move his pelvis to support his lower back better, resulting in an immediate straightening of his spine while his lower back was engaged. Particularly useful was gently rocking his pelvis forward while he played and touching the top of his head so he had some self awareness how he became taller as his back straightened. Rounding his back by pushing lightly from his lower chest and then straightening it by pressing lightly on his lower back.
I did another variation of this with him lying on his side, which really seemed to register on his self awareness as it is not a movement we do normally and he did not have to worry about bearing weight or balance. Additionally, and possibly unrelated, I worked with very gentle movements of his toes till his legs started relaxing more. I think the muscle tension in his whole body relaxed and there was more ease, but it was not such an immediately observable change for whole body.
I was not able to video shoot these functional integration lessons, because I don’t have anyone assisting me and also because he becomes instantly distracted by a camera. I have never been able to set it up without him noticing.
He still forgets to sit straight, but now that he can, if he wants to, he is able to do a lot more movements than before. All of a sudden. Adding something new with each session.
He still uses his hands for balance, but is sitting up more often and also uses his hands for balance more often than bearing his weight. He has started rocking back and forth while sitting in a W-sit. He has started enjoying being rocked side to side (shifting weight from one buttock to the other) if done in rhythm with music. He has started using the palms of his hands more often than the back of his hand, which was usual up to this series of functional integration lessons.
He used to grab my hair to pull my head down to plant kisses on it all the time. He loves it. So I have started not bending when he pulls and letting him come up to me instead. He has started pulling himself up on his knees if he can get a fistful of my hair (it hurts, but considering that it is one of the very few things he grabs strongly and willingly, I am glad he does it). His back is not strong enough to do it well yet, but once in a while he surprises himself by standing on his knees. Grin, kiss, fall back into a sit. This is something he had started briefly last month, but is able to do it slightly better after these sessions.
He has started babbling a lot more and using his hands more readily.
He is also showing definite improvements with how he uses his hands. He takes out a spoon from a bowl, and then puts it back in. Gave him a rounded pot with a deep dish that fits in the mouth like a cover and he played with it in a variety of ways putting one on top of the other, putting on as lid, taking off, putting my mobile phone in the pot and putting on the “lid”… All this is new and has managed to alter habitual patterns of immediately releasing anything he grasped. All of a sudden he seems to be discovering a wide range of possibilities to try out. I believe this too is a direct result of his hands being easier to free now that he doesn’t use them as much for bearing weight.
There is a new self awareness that has him pausing and taking stock when confronted with something new as though evaluating potential before engaging.
His is normally constipated, but in last three days his bowel movements have been fine. Though this may be related or a coincidence.
All in all, an exciting time and for the first time, I am experiencing that I am actually able to help him to learn movement. Strikes me anew just how much I need to learn. At the moment, it is better than last year, but many sessions don’t seem to strike any note with him. I see this as a direct result of me lacking the knowledge to choose movements that will help him. In the last few months, my skill has improved, and it is helping him dramatically.
Note: Parents in India often ask me if I will help their child. I will, but please note that I am a self learned practitioner and am not a better option than finding a real one, which may be near impossible in India, but possible if you go abroad. Also note that I will not be able to travel to your home for it. You will have to come here, though you are welcome to come and even stay for a few days if you find it useful.