Have you ever felt there are people that come into your life and you know that they were meant to be there? The universe seems to have a way of bringing us to people, places and circumstances that can enlighten our lives in some way. It’s like a nudge from above letting us know we are on the right track. I am a true believer people and events happen in one’s life for a reason.
A couple of weeks ago when I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Denver I sat next to the most fascinating woman. I usually have my nose in a book, but for some unknown reason I felt drawn to striking up a conversation with this woman. Lael Katharine Keen is a Rolfer. She not only practices Rolfing but is a teacher of Rolfing® She has been on the Rolfing® Structural Integration and Rolf Movement® Faculty for the Rolf Institute, since 1994 and and is founding member of the Brazilian Rolfing Association. She is an also a practitioner and teacher (at the Advanced level) of Somatic Experiencing (Dr. Peter Levine’s innovative approach to treating post-traumatic stress through the body) and has been teaching Somatic Experiencing for the Foundation for Human Enrichment since 1998. She is a founding member of the Brazilian SE Association (SE Brasil) and a senior member of the Brazilian faculty. Lael also holds a 5th degree black belt in Ki-Aikido and has taught and studied Ki-Aikido most of her adult life. She lives in the south of Brazil with her husband and daughter. Pretty impressive! I had never heard of Rolfing, but after talking with Lael about my son’s issues I knew I needed to learn more. Rolfing is a body based therapy that can be very beneficial to children with disorders and when the CDC came out with the latest statistic on autism (1 in 68 children under the age of 8 are now on the spectrum), I felt this was an important subject to share. Through the intagrative approach of body based therapies used in conjunction with traditional treatments a practitioner can help decode the pain at the heart of a child with autism, ADHD or other childhood disorders so they can be healed and coaxed into a more normal frame work . Each child is different and different body based therapies brings on a different insight and technique.
Sensory Integration (SIT) seems to be the most widely body based therapy used by families caring for children with autism. This therapy uses play in ways designed to change how the brain reacts to different sensations; touch, sound, sight and movement. While the therapy is not new, it has remained somewhat controversial. Basically, the rationale is that by changing how an autistic child processes sensations, it can help by making better sense of the information they receive and use it to better participate in everyday tasks.
Controversial as well, CranioSacral therapy (CST) has sparked some hard criticism. Some doctors describe it as worthless, saying there are no scientific studies verifying its effectiveness. Yet osteopathic doctors, naturopathic doctors, dentists, physical therapists, nurses as well as the parents of children with behavior problems, learning disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism all claim they have seen great results. CST is used to detect and correct imbalances in the Craniosacral system, which may be the cause of sensory, motor or neurological dysfunction. It assists the body’s natural capacity for self-healing. During a CST session, a therapist places their hands lightly on the patience body and tunes in to what is happening by ‘listening’ with their hands. Contact is made carefully so that the patient feels at ease with what is happening. CranioSacral therapy is so gentle that it is suitable for babies, children, and the elderly, as well as adults and people in fragile or acutely painful conditions. Treatment can aid almost any condition, raising vitality and improving the body’s capacity for self-repair.
While CST focuses on the nervous system, Rolfing is a great compliment and is slowly acquiring mainstream acceptance.
“This is the gospel of Rolfing®: When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.” — Ida Rolf
Developed by Dr. Rolf in the early 1030s, Rolfing aligns and balances the physical body within its gravitational field. This rebalancing is accomplished through manipulation, loosening and reorganizing the connective tissue surrounding the muscles. This web of white tissue is called fascia, and it lies beneath the skin and covers and connects the underlying muscles, bones and organs. The fascia contributes in holding together the body’s structure supporting its posture. For autistic children with impaired motor development like toe walking, hypotonia, and general clumsiness, the brain causes some muscles to work too hard and others not hard enough. Rolfing works to bring fascia back to its natural flexibility and resilience. It can also help introduce new movement patterns. The shape of the body reflects how well it is operating and how well it is lined up and balanced with the field of gravity. Rolfers use their hands to administer a slow, intense massage evening out muscle tensions and contractures which restores the connective tissues flexibility. The general goal of Rolfing is to bring the various segments of the body; head, neck, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet into balance and a supportive relationship with one another. A scientifically validated system of body restructuring, Rolfing can make dramatic changes in a child’s structure bringing about positive changes that could last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, because body based therapies are less studied, many physicians and healthcare providers don’t advise families of these helpful integrative treatments. If this is something you feel might be beneficial for your child there are practitioners out there who are qualified in multiple body based therapies. However, Lael’s biggest concern is the quality of practitioners out there. Like with any practitioner there are good ones and bad ones so it’s important to do your research and find one with good recommendations. The links below are a good start!
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