Lenny Loved Lego

Lenny at ten years old, was the oldest of four children. The family’s Health Visitor had noted his delayed development and limited communication when he was two years old. He was subsequently seen by a variety of professionals and submitted to repeated episodes of intervention in an endeavour to effect some improvement, with limited success. Hopeful beginnings rapidly deteriorated into disillusionment and non cooperation.

Lenny’s negative behaviour  escalated until school became a place of containment rather than learning. This negative spiralling eventually resulted in his exclusion from school and a home tutor was appointed for ten hours a week. At the time of Lenny’s referral, his home tutor had established a good and trusting relationship with Lenny’s parents but her pre-planned structured teaching approach with Lenny was failing miserably. His speech was virtually unintelligible; he continued to explore objects by putting them in his mouth and chewed pencils and other inedible items.  His tutor was endeavouring to relate to him through play but asked for help and advice to do this. She readily agreed to my offer of training and supervision, which included a joint hour with Lenny every three weeks.  Not much I know but it was the only mutually agreeable time we could arrange in our busy schedules.

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Finbar the Dragon Slayer

DragonMy work in Ireland introduced me to some amazingly creative children. One of them was a little boy called Finbar. I only saw him twice but he taught me that children are able to quickly gain what they need in a space free from judgement and expectation with a variety of versatile props to allow them to express themselves creatively.

Finbar was seven years old, the only child of parents who lived in a cottage deep in the Irish countryside.  Finbar’s mother was a healer who used alternative therapies and astrology to solve her difficulties in life. She was warmly expressive and colourfully dressed with long dark hair and olive skin. Finbar’s father was gentle voiced of slight build with long wispy hair which fell onto his collar. At home and school, Finbar refused to sit on the toilet and refused to have his hair cut. In a previous interview his mother told me that she was concerned about Finbar’s preference for girlish things and desire to play the female role and he had difficulty maintaining friendships because of his toilet phobia .

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Yellow is a Feeling

Jim had learning disabilities and lived in a Residential Home with five other men. He was in his early fifties and was referred to me with anxiety and depression in the hope that I could discover what was causing his unhappiness.  Jim had a very limited vocabulary of single words.  A word he used continuously was Tuesday and to Jim everyday was Tuesday.

His care-staff were concerned because he was exhibiting what they termed ‘bizarre behaviour’. They told me that when no one was watching, Jim would slip out into the back garden, ‘pull the heads off weeds’ and put them into a plastic carrier bag. He would then thrust his head into the bag to seemingly examine them more closely.

I decided to observe this behaviour first hand, in an attempt to gain some understanding of what was going on. Observation revealed that the weeds Jim was specifically selecting were dandelions.  When he felt  he had gathered enough dandelion heads, he put his head into the bag and kept it there for about ten seconds.

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Don’t Stop Reading Fairy Tales

CinderellaI want to talk to parents, grandparents and teachers to let them know how important it is to read fairy tales to their children, grandchildren and pupils. We are holding the light for a lost generation who are becoming increasingly disconnected from their intuition and from nature and their environment.

A child is like sleeping beauty, asleep and waiting for a handsome prince (the higher intuitive self) to wake her up.  Waking up symbolises  our reconnection to a deeper understanding of the joy of life and its true meaning. Original Fairy tales (not the sanitised Disney tales, the re-written ones or the politically correct ones with the anti-hero) introduce children to moral choices. These stories demonstrate that every choice, has a consequence. Fairy tales build confidence and self esteem as the characters struggle against the horrors of their situation to eventually emerge victorious.

We cannot hide our children from the horrors of life, sooner or later they will have to be out in the world and will have to learn to cope with its dangers and disappointments. Let’s help to equip our children and grandchildren , by reading them fairy stories with which they can identify and which will inspire them to be better human beings. This will enable them to face what is to come.

See also: ‘Fairytales, Astrology and Enchantment in Relation to Child Directed Creative Play’

Let the Magic Begin: Playing Pirates

When I met Kevin, he was only four years old, his mother had attended a workshop I was running in the Republic of Ireland to talk about my therapeutic work with children.  At the end of the day she approached me for help.  A single parent, she was struggling to cope with  her ‘unmanageable and hyperactive’ son. She told me that Kevin was a ball of energy who refused to sit still or do as he was told and he had difficulty relating to other children. Apparently, her relationship with Kevin’s father was not good and his visits to see his son were spasmodic and unreliable.  Kevin slept in his mother’s bed every night and constantly demanded her time and energy during the day. She told me that she wasn’t coping and felt unable to impose any structure or routine at home.

I agreed to see Kevin and had hired a room in a local hotel for our first session. Arriving for his appointment, like quicksilver, he darted into the room, clutching a small brown bag of toy instruments. His mother’s tension was palpable and in her lilting Irish brogue she continually remonstrated with him with hapless pleas of ‘Don’t be wild now’.  Kevin ignored her and inhis excitement, continued to run around the room at great speed. I reassured his mother that all was well and suggested that she went for a cup of tea , quickly ushering her out of the room, with a request to return for Kevin in half an hour.

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Creating Child’s Play

All children need to play and use their play to make sense of their experiences and to make sense of what is happening around them. Through play, they are able to channel overwhelming feelings and ‘play out’ situations that they feel powerless to resolve.

By offering the child a space and providing a few simple props they are able to create a character for themselves and be in their own fantasy world.  This  experience gives the child an opportunity to explore what they need to explore in their own way and at their own pace.

The adult’s role is to observe, wait and listen ; to only get involved and take on a role if invited to do so. It is of paramount importance that in the play situation the adult follows the lead of the child and does not try to take the story  or the child’s play where they feel it should go,  or try and hurry it to a conclusion.

Trust the process because play, if allowed to unfold, will travel at the pace appropriate for the child.  If it is not completed in the time allotted, the child is usually happy to carry it over to the next opportunity. This is much better than forcing a conclusion before the story has had time to reach its creative potential.

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Vocal Toning and Energy Alignment

This is an excerpt from Positive Health Online Issue 179 – February 2011. The full article can be found at: Vocal Toning and Energy Alignment

My interest in the voice and creative expression led to training in Speech and Language Therapy, deepening my understanding of the mechanics of speech, the nature of impairment and its impact on life and relationships. A twenty year struggle with orthodox methods of symptom focused intervention and disillusionment with imposed systems and the medical approach, prompted a shift of focus. I turned my attention from the impairment to the creative, intuitive aspects of the right brain. This approach stimulates and regenerates the central nervous system activating the client’s own self healing mechanism to create dynamic possibilities for healing.

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