It’s My Turn Now

Throat-ToneCaroline was a forty six year old woman, who was referred by her doctor because of learning difficulties and deafness. The doctor hoped that any attempt to improve Caroline’s pronunciation of speech sounds would improve her communication and quality of life.

Caroline had had a cleft palate repair as a child and lack of oxygen during the repair had left her with a marked speech impediment. To communicate Caroline used a combination of gesture, signing (Makaton – a language programme using signs and symbols) and speech. Her speech was muffled and unclear due to the excessive nasal resonance caused by the cleft in her palate, although her articulation of single words was clearer than connected speech (sentences). + Read More

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.

+ Read More

My name’s Norman

Norman, a forty eight year old man with learning disabilities, was also blind.  He was small in stature and looked permanently worried. I was told that his vision had been severely impaired after he had sustained a detached retina in both eyes at the age of 43. Unfortunately, he had refused to stay in bed after the operation and as a result his vision had not returned.  Norman had been incarcerated in a large asylum hospital from the age of six.  He was eventually discharged from the hospital in the late 1980s. When we met he had moved to a small group home in the community with two other men, where he received 24 hour monitoring and assistance.

His care staff requested my help because they were concerned. Norman was becoming increasingly disinterested in walking and was in danger of losing his mobility. The staff team were also worried about Norman’s behaviour because although he enjoyed being outside on a summer’s day and would stand at the garden fence in the sunshine, his mood would change suddenly if he was disturbed . When this happened, he would lose his temper, kick over garden pots and pull up flowers. + Read More

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Having worked for several years in a school for children who were severely physically and intellectually disabled, I came to the conclusion that children with communication impairment prefer to be involved with music, movement and play rather than those activities that have an expectation of interaction. However when there is a difficulty with communication, the ability to interact in play will also be restricted and these children will often prefer to isolate themselves from other children to create their own world.

Children who find it hard to express themselves through words and language remind us to be accurate, brief and clear in our communication. Our body language and tone of voice need to match what we are saying so that we don’t give a conflicting message. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, it may help to offer multi sensory aids (music, objects, pictures, sounds, fragrances) to cue the child into the  activity.  Encouraging the child to listen, feel, see, touch or smell means that they don’t have to rely on only one channel of communication in order to understand the words being used,  or the request being made.

+ Read More

Healing a Stammer Revealed Hidden Talents

When Paul was referred to me, I was in the midst of juggling my work as a speech and language therapist within the NHS in the north of England with my Academy of Spiritual Sciences Post Grad holistic therapy training.  I received an urgent telephone call from Paul’s sister asking for help with her brother who had Down’s syndrome. He had lived with his parents in a busy seaside town until tragically,  both parents had died of heart attacks within months of each other.  Following the intervention of the local Social Services, Paul  moved away from the only home he had known, to live with one of his older sisters who was a single parent with a little boy of her own. Paul and his sister came from a large family but all was not well because family members were not on speaking terms with each other. At a family meeting, Paul’s siblings had been against him living with a member of the family, although this particular sister had wanted to take responsibility and care for him.

 Paul was in his early twenties and had a very marked stammer (stutter), his breathing was shallow and fast which exacerbated his communication difficulty. In our first session, he told me he had ‘nice dreams’ when his Mum came to talk to him and asked him how he was. He said that he told her he was fine and said that she told him that she was missing him a lot.

+ Read More

Lego was the Key

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.

+ Read More

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 .

When I first met Finbar, I was working in a small hotel room,  filled with two large arm chairs and a coffee table. A full length mirror was on the back of a door leading to a small bathroom.

From my selection of materials and dressing up clothes, Finbar chose a piece of indigo silk to wrap around his waist like a long skirt and a piece of turquoise diaphanous material, which he wanted to wear as a cloak. He wrapped a narrow golden scarf across his forehead and asked me to tie it to the side so that the ends hung down over his right ear. Looking at himself in the mirror, he stared in silence. I lifted his hair up from his shoulder and scooped it back from his face in a knot at the back of his neck and asked what he thought as he continued to gaze in the mirror. “Cool” he said! He told me that his Daddy had long hair. I asked him if he would want short hair if his Daddy had short hair. He said he would but that his Mummy teased his Daddy because he had a bald patch.

I commented that Finbar looked like a prince and he quickly corrected me by saying that he was a King not a prince and proceeded to cover one of the arm chairs with a piece of blue material. At my request he had brought some favourite music, two CD’s, one classical and one Celtic. He chose to play a track from the classical CD, which he said was ‘scary and happy as well’.  Finbar told me that as king he was sad because there was a dragon in the kingdom, which had to be killed. When I asked where it was, he said “It’s in there” pointing to the door leading to the toilet and bathroom (Finbar didn’t know what was behind the door.)  Wondering if there was anyone who could help him, I asked and he said the Queen could and informed me that I was the Queen and chose a piece of golden yellow chiffon for me to wear as a cloak.

Finbar said that we also needed a fire sword and selected a length of orange material as his sword. He found a length of red felt to represent my sword. I told Finbar that there was a specific sound called a tone that corresponded with the orange colour, which, if we made it loudly would probably frighten the dragon away. I demonstrated the  Sacral Chakra Tone /O as in home/ which resonates with the sacral chakra and corresponds to the vibrational frequency of the colour orange and Finbar happily imitated the Tone. His strong, resonant voice surprised me. He led the way into the bathroom and pointed to the toilet indicating that that was where the dragon lived. We called the orange tone Finbar’s tone and we made the tone in unison as we brandished our fire swords together to frighten the dragon away.

After a pause, Finbar lifted the lid of the toilet to show me where the dragon had lived. I told him that the dragon would now need to be washed away with clear water. Finbar agreed and created a waterfall of blue material, which flowed into the bathroom and around the base of the toilet, he then pulled the toilet chain as a climax to our activity. Having thoroughly washed away his dragon he rolled the material waterfall back to its source and then spontaneously bathed the whole room in swathes of golden yellow material. He framed the door of the bathroom in golden yellow and he suggested that we make a rainbow in the centre of the room as a sign that the dragon had gone for good. To end the session he drew a picture of the story he had created. As he drew his picture he told me that he wanted to be an artist when he grew up.

A week later I met Finbar’s mother to discuss his progress. He had told her about his story and she said it was the first time she had known him cast himself in a male role as a King because he usually wanted to be a Queen, also, Finbar and his father had both had their hair cut. She also said that Finbar was talking about his feelings more and the Bach flower remedy of chicory  was helping them to be less  attached to each other. Finbar was now willing to return to his own bed in the middle of the night. He made the orange tone while sitting on the toilet and his mother felt that this was taking away his fear.

Each evening before bed, Finbar’s mother and father made Finbar’s tone with him. His mother told me that in some strange way she felt that making the sound together was helping them all. I told her that Toning was a powerful and ancient method of healing withn the voice  and it would cement a positive bond between them all.  Native American Indians had chanted tones to bind the people together in unity and courage. Toning also releases tension within the bowel and lower digestive tract. Regular practice meant that Finbar was no longer suffering from constipation and each time he spontaneously sat on the toilet he was given a golden star for his box.

You may also be interested in my teaching manuals :  Rainbow Chakra Tones  and Happy Talk

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 yellow 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.

+ Read More

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’

A Child ‘s Past Life as a Pirate

When I met Kevin, he was 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 in his 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.

+ Read More

1 2 3 4 5