What follows is the continuation of a story of my work with a little boy with autism and his family. To learn more read the first post and please leave comments below!
My last lesson with Jay was the calmest, an almost parting farewell. Where in our work together this week we have done a lot of physically dynamic and also subtle movement, this lesson consisted of several movements that in a very real way tied everything together. Very similar to how after reminding someone that he has a spine by touching and increasing awareness of that area I might push down the length of the spine from the shoulders or up from the feet, in this lesson I was tying together a number of the different lessons and works we have done together this week.
Happiness Results From Change
An interesting element that I noticed about Jay during our final session together was that his energy, while periodically high, was always positive. He didn’t self-regulate unhappily or move away from me, expect once when my touch interrupted his eating. I have often seen that when children learn, their mood improves. Jay wasn’t necessarily like an adult might be during this last lesson – lying down on my table at request and staying there no matter what. He got up and moved around, ate, looked at us and spoken. The biggest difference was that his anxious behaviors from earlier in the week were completely absent. He didn’t self-regulate or imitate someone being upset. He did jump up and down on this bed repeatedly, and then expressed delight when we imitated his behavior. At one point he even hit the wall repeatedly, but not in an expression of stress but of enthusiasm. The biggest difference I observed during this last session was how calm and collected he was throughout.
A related factor was Jay’s immediacy of concentration. Whereas early on he might have turned away after a moment of my working with him, during our last day and especially our last session he sunk deeper into paying attention to what we were doing, rather than become distracted and move away. There was a specific moment while he was eating and sitting on my table. I was kneeing below and in front of him, lifting his left leg and adjusting his foot on the ground. As I went to move his foot he adjusted his leg and looked down at me. I paused, waiting to see if he would push me away, get up, or express his preference. Instead, he looked away, moved his foot back to very near my hand and relaxed. I resumed exploring the various positions of his foot on the ground and we remained in that position for several more minutes.
I am delighted with Jay, where he is in this moment and what I see as his trajectory into the future. He has one of the most loving and supportive teams I have encountered, willing to follow him and gently invite him back to our world. While he does have periods of profound unhappiness, he is increasingly better at expressing himself, reading those around him, and learning to use and understand his physical body. I am full of enthusiasm for his future and excited to support his on-going development.