Missing Grandma

Ten year old Henry, was referred to me by his paediatrician who was concerned about his deteriorating health.  She  wondered if Henry was still grieving for his grandmother, who had unexpectedly died twelve months earlier. Henry had had a close relationship with his Grandma and both he and his mother would have been traumatised by her sudden disappearance from their lives. I was told that Henry used a wheelchair because of poor mobility and coordination. His paediatrician believed that his understanding of speech was limited and informed me that Henry made sounds to communicate rather than words.  He had a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder.

Henry must certainly have been struggling to make sense of his new living arrangements because I discovered that his family i.e. his mother, her partner and his maternal aunt, had all moved into his grandmother’s house after her death.  It was therefore a house full of memories for them all.  Henry’s mother was also having difficulty coming to terms with the loss of her own mother and family members were adjusting to living together for the first time in somewhat bizarre circumstances.

When I first saw Henry at home, he was sitting in his wheel chair, although I was told that he had some mobility. He was clutching a cardboard book of Winnie-the-Pooh.  Henry’s communication was restricted to vocalisations and gestures when excited but no clear words. He attended a special needs school in the area. At that first meeting he was quiet and withdrawn, he did not look at me and continually turned his head from side to side when I spoke to him. After a while, however, still without looking at me, Henry extended his right hand and offered me his Winnie-the Pooh book several times but then refused to let go of it once it was in my hand.

winnie-the-pooh-bookI offered creative play sessions for Henry in the holistic therapy centre where I worked, in the hope that this would allow him an opportunity to release his feelings indirectly, through music, colour and sound.  Several sessions of  energy alignment through the emerald alignment technique combined with gentle reflexology would also help Henry’s mother to stabilise her emotions, take anxiety from her mind and enable her to come to terms with her own  grief, whilst providing some peace in her fraught daily schedule. I hoped that this would have a positive impact on her relationship with Henry and the rest of the family. She welcomed the opportunity to experience holistic therapy for the first time.

During our play sessions, Henry climbed out of his chair and moved freely, though awkwardly around the room using the furniture as anchor points to steady himself. In our initial session he repeatedly picked up some brightly coloured mats and threw them across the room.  To establish Henry’s colour preference I produced swathes of rainbow coloured silk and waited and watched for a positive response to any particular colour. I didn’t have long to wait because he reached out and vocalised when he saw the sky blue silk and  laughed excitedly when I wrapped it around him like a cloak.

Henry’s response was equally positive, when I softly made specific vocal chakra tones for him and wrapped him in the corresponding coloured silk.  Toning is an ancient and powerful method of healing with the voice using specific vocal techniques. It’s important to tone softly with a child because the amplification of vibration could be too strong for the child’s electromagnetic field.  I  waited, watched and listened for Henry’s response and he reacted by pulling my face towards him with both hands. He laughed and vocalised ‘ay, ay, ay’ when I made the heart tone /HA/ and wrapped him in the corresponding colour of apple green silk. This vocal tone, resonates with the heart chakra and is a particular favourite with children. Henry also loved the song Nick Knack Paddy Whack and smiled and again vocalised, rocking from side to side whenever I sang it to him.

 To gauge musical preference during our play time sessions, I played music from different cultures as well as popular and classical music. Within three weeks, I discovered that his firm favourites were the didgeridoo from Aboriginal Australia and The Blue Danube by Strauss. When I played either of these, Henry waited until the music had stopped and then picked up the CD cover and held it out to me with a look of eager expectancy on his face. When I responded by playing the music again, he laughed animatedly, rocking from side to side as the music played.

To provide some structure and routine at home, I suggested that a favourite piece of music be used to signal bath and bedtime and that a different piece of music be used to signal getting up time. We also found that music could be successfully used to prepare Henry for a change of environment .  Musical links ease a difficult transition between one activity and another.

Henry’s demeanour altered as our sessions progressed. I believed that the creative play sessions with music, vocal sound and colour were enabling him to experience and focus on a positive emotional experience, which indirectly released emotion and painlessly healed sad and confusing memories. Henry began to initiate and enjoy turn taking activities, (a prerequisite for appropriate verbal interaction). He discovered a liking for inset jigsaws and although his hand mobility and eye/hand coordination were initially poor, they continued to improve as he enjoyed a ‘hide and seek’ game of taking turns to find a specific piece of inset jigsaw and placing it in its corresponding shape.

Henry’s mother enthusiastically remarked that he was becoming much happier at home and was laughing and smiling more. Sleeping had improved and he had recognisably said ‘I love you’ back to her for the first time at bed time. In the same week Henry had delighted everyone by appropriately naming family members and a vocabulary of single words was growing on a daily basis.

I was funded to see Henry six times over a period of three months.  His mother was able to enjoy two sessions of reflexology and had practised  the Emerald Alignment when at home, which was beginning to alleviate her stress and anxiety.   She said that for the first time she was experiencing a feeling of calm. Further sessions were requested for both mother and son but unfortunately both were denied because of lack of available funding. I followed up a request to visit Henry’s school and passed on specific vocal tones and musical suggestions to link activities.  These ideas were successfully incorporated into daily routine in the classroom.

The Emerald Alignment method, if practiced on a daily basis, energises the body systems and has a positive and lasting effect.

To find out more about this method of working with children, the Academy of Spiritual Sciences has now been incorporated into the Living Memory Research Trust and Jennifer’s introductory teaching manuals are currently offered as free downloads.    The Sensory Rainbow, manual offers helpful and practical advice.