I’m frequently reminded of how vision can be grounded through touch and movement. This morning I worked with a nine-year-old boy I’ll call Todd. His goal was to enjoy reading (he hadn’t yet learned how). The first part of the session centered around his learning the Cross Crawl to help him develop a sense of his whole body working as a unit as he walked and moved about. I used Dennison Laterality Repatterning, a 10-minute-or-so movement sequence, to help him become aware of his reciprocal movement and then distinguish that from stillness and the articulation of a single area, such as the hand needed for drawing and writing. Todd quickly made an improvement in his awareness of proprioception, what Paul calls the brain cells in the muscles, and seemed to settle more into his body.

Another important shift occurred when I traced Lazy 8s and the Double Doodle on Todd’s back. At first he pulled away as though he thought I was about to tickle him. So I asked him to trace circles on my back first, and showed him how by tracing lightly on his arm. Then I traced the Lazy 8s and Double Doodles on his back, and asked if he could tell what shapes I was making. Todd clearly enjoyed this activity, as he seemed to drop out of a mental space, quiet down, and relax enough to stop his fidgeting.

Todd then drew large Lazy 8s and Double Doodles on a flip chart. After that, he read with confidence and ease, even though I had given him no reading instruction per se. His mother commented that this was the first time she had heard him read with fluency.

The sometimes relentless tickling of children by parents and siblings is not uncommon, and I want to make a plea in this regard. Young children are still developing the proprioceptive awareness that lets them relax into their muscles and gives them spatial information about how different parts of their body relate. Tickling—especially when it’s unwanted—is now widely considered an unwise practice. It disrupts the steadiness given by the proprioceptive system and leaves a child ungrounded, as you can see when children pull away. Tracing the Double Doodle and Lazy 8s on a child’s back soothes and brings awareness to the muscles, developing trust and proprioception, as happened with Todd, and guiding the visual system into a relaxed state.

© 2012 by Gail E. Dennison. All Rights Reserved

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