Is your brain issue kid one of the ones that also have body issues? I’m not talking about poor hygiene, although I know that can be a problem with some kids. I’m talking about lack of coordination, poor fine motor skills, lack of awareness of one’s body in space and relative to other people. Not all kids with brain issues have this particular problem, but lots do. And it’s the kind of problem that when it comes up its always dealt with as a side issue, if at all. It’s recognized but nothing is done about it. And I’m beginning to think this is a big mistake.
My daughter might be a great artist because she’s very visual and sees things h0listically but a little diagonally if you know what I mean. But her lack of fine motor skills will limit her success and her feeling of success in that area. She would love to be a performer, but struggles in a dance class to understand group instructions and be able to translate what she sees into her body. When we go shopping, she is constantly running into people because she seems unaware of her body in space. She has bull in a china shop syndrome.
Watching her made me remember myself when I began acting school. See, this is where I’m sure I was directed into this particular acting course for a reason. My training was very physically based, meaning that by and large we created characters by creating physical bodies and ways of moving for them. Most acting programmes focus on developing a character through the mind and letting that translate into the body. In short, my training moved from the outside in rather than inside out. It’s a really interesting approach and one that leads to characters that are very far outside yourself, which in acting is a very good thing.
Now, when I first started acting school, the idea of a movement class terrified me. I wasn’t particularly athletic or dancy. I defined myself by my brain and my voice and thought that maybe if I could get by on those two things no one would require me to move at all. Oh, naive one was I! Movement class forced me wrestle my demons of “don’t look at me while I’m dancing.” But I got over it, and in the end, it opened up a whole new world to me. We were introduced to Laban, Contact Improvisation, Feldenkrais, Alexander, modern dance, Pilates, and yoga just to name a few.
After observing my daughter struggle with these body issues, I kept bringing it with the various professionals that we’ve encountered but no one seemed to know what to do about it. So, first of all, I’m putting it out there. Someone who is highly specialized in these movement forms (particularly, Laban, Feldenkrais, and Alexander) needs to design some classes for these brain issue kids. Because, just like an actor can build a character for the stage from the outside in, I bet that sorting out the body issues may also lead to improved brain function. What if improving body awareness, could help a kid learn to read? Or have better social skills? The most prevalent philosophy of treatment for brain issues kind of treats our brains like a brain sitting in the jar of our body. You can treat the brain, but why would you treat the jar? But our body and brains aren’t walled off entities, but intrinsically, and dare I use that overused corporate word, synergistically connected. Our brain is an organic thing too. Brain=body.
Secondly, in truth, the universe has already partially answered my question. Michael Merzenich, one of the developers of Fast ForWord recently blogged about Anat Baniel and her new book Move Into Life. Anat was trained by Moshe Feldenkrais (see above) and used his methods to further develop her own philosophy/practice of movement. I’m halfway through the book and so far it’s terrific–simple and yet insightful. Although be warned she does have an offhand way of saying “After 10 minutes of working with me, his life was changed forever.” that I find a little off-putting. I think her method may be very powerful and have wide applications, but it can’t be the answer to life, the universe and everything. Still, I’ve delved a little further into her website and found a practitioner in my area, so perhaps the answer is close at hand.
I will keep you posted.
Does your child struggle with these types of body issues? Have you discovered anything that works (or doesn’t)? Talk to me.