My trainer pointed to his temples and then looked at me, prompting me to focus. His words, “you’re going too fast … don’t forget to breath.” He asked me to stop and focus on the movements on the rower. My legs, my core, my arms – and then my core, my arms … and finally legs, again. “Slow down,” he reiterated.
“Ugh,” I voiced on the inside.
I did slow down. I certainly didn’t like it though. I wanted to feel the rush of moving fast, so fast that I didn’t have to think. I missed the rush of adrenaline moving through my body, telling me that I was working-out hard. I missed the senseless feeling of forgetting about my day, about my son’s journey, about my daughter’s tears over losing a beloved toy, about my climb up hill. I craved moving fast.
But, this small lesson showed me that to slow down, in essence, really meant to think about my movement.
And the parallel, my son also loves to move fast and furious. He zips in between the cracks on the paved sidewalks, he jumps from chair to couch to chair, he rolls back-and-forth on the hard floors. His favorite way to play involves the chase – of his sister, of the bad guy, of the scooter ahead of him. The chase, the speed … this is what my son likes to feel.
However, sometimes, his movements can seem wild and unpredictable. His arms may float in the air and his legs will kick. His intention is to move – to feel the sensation of fastness. His intention is never to bump into someone or something. And, so here enters a new therapy for my son. The big, fancy name is Deep Proprioceptive Input Therapy. It is defined as a way for the person to gain control of his or her senses and to find a sense of calm. My son’s therapist describes it as the feeling of biting into a piece of spicy jerky or chewing on a piece of gum. It is the feeling of sinking oneself into something. It can also be seen as gaining control of your body movements or draping a weighted blanket over your anxious, wired, yet tired body.
In a sense, this type of therapy is about creating a map for how to move or physically respond in certain situations. Similar to my work-out on the rower, it is about slowing down and truly feeling every phase of the movements. It is about letting go of the speed and finding some control and breath. It is about feeling the bottoms of your feet when you walk across roller beams; feeling the twined ropes in your hands as your swing from one rope to another; sinking into the bean bag and allowing all the small pea-shaped foam balls to hug you. It is about really feeling something so you can … pause … think … and continue to move forward.
While this type of therapy is very new to me, I do know that small changes have emerged since my son’s first session. I watch him take ownership of chewing on an Ark Motor Oral Chews when he is tried and frustrated. I admire his ability to wrap himself in a weighted blanket when he is angry. (Note: Neither Ark Therapeutic Products or SensaCalm enticed me to add a blip about their products. This is based solely on my own experience as a mother who observes her child who is on the spectrum.)
My joy is found in the understanding that my son is learning to breath and pause. And so, the journey continues. …