M is a 10 year old boy who does not speak, gesture or stand. He has a feeding tube implanted in his stomach although these days he seems to be eating from his mouth.
Ruth Solomon, who has 15 years of experience working with children with Special Educational Needs, invited me to join her to work with M about a year ago. This is my reflection of our weekly sessions. We predominantly use touch and bodywork (Ruth is a Shiatsu practitioner and I am a Craniosacral Therapist and Somatic Movement Therapist), and voice and storytelling in addition.
In a session with M, most of times I have no idea what were exactly happening with him although I saw his state shifted quite quickly. He was also quick to express any discomfort or unliking to what we did. He is quick. I am impressed by the immediacy and responsiveness he has. Is it because he is a child, or he is not particularly required to fit into the social framework due to his conditions? I don’t know. I just feel I would have had much more repressed ways of responding even at his age.
His straight and open responsiveness encourages me to work on the same plane. As I cannot follow analytically what are going on with him, I simply give up trying to understand, and just be with myself, with M and with Ruth. It is probably called holding space. My commitment for the hour in the room is to be in tune with what are there. My felt sense and emotions, M’s shifting states and Ruth’s manoeuvring between her knowledge, listening, and shared experiences with M and me.
There were some days that I felt myself not really on my toes to treat him. Like M’s and like Ruth’s, things happen in my life and that affect my energy and state. And it is ok, I say to myself. I still show up to a session and do what call me. These sessions felt like having tea together. Being in the same space and time, meeting somewhere between M, Ruth and myself, and listening to each other with affirmation. I quite like this image of us sitting together in a circle, holding a mug in the hands. I add a bonfire in the middle. We are warm and comfy, looking at the fire burning, our processes occurring…
I have limited experience of working with SEN children and I do not have any particular expectation for him. I feel this rather helpful, as I am just so ready to accept almost everything that happens in a session. The bottomline for me is to create a space for him to feel safe, to connect, and then to expand. Until mid-May, the connections were more about within himself; his restricted body, unbearable pain in the stomach, possible trauma from medical procedures, all of which have caused dissociation within himself.
I had three weeks away and came back in mid- June. He has changed. He is growing. He vocalises much more with clearer expressions of his states than murmuring he used to do. His fingers so active that seem to be searching and willing to connect to the world. His eyes occasionally stare at something, rather than floating with no focus. I read all these as his awareness as a human in the society. He is declaring this existence, and he is now curious what are around him.
This is an exciting development. I am going to follow his development curiously in our future meetings.
My thanks goes to Ruth for offering me this opportunity. This has been a precious opportunity for me to feel safe and delve into the processes happening. I am looking forward to be working with Ruth further.