Reflexology and Learning in Babies
I've always been fascinated by a former student's success in integrating (where appropriate) reflexology into her already amazing practice of Occupational Therapy for babies (ages 18 mos. - 3 years) with developmental delays.
As she puts it: "ADD & AHDD are diagnosed at a later time, age 6. You clearly can see the behaviors wilh poor attention skills and hyper activity without the diagnosis. I think the Autism part... [is of] of great interest as the increase is constantly on the air."
Here's one report she wrote on the subject and will give you an idea of what the conversation will be on our teleseminar this Thursday (see above for details).
I have been working with a child, J.A., who is 2 ½ years old in the center I work in. I provided a total of 5 sessions.
J.A. is described as having difficulty in sitting still for tasks in classroom and leaving classroom for her therapy sessions as well as having her diaper changed.
My traditional therapeutic approach (Sensory Integration Techniques) was intrusive for her and she had a tendency to avoid, either by crying, running to the door, humming or closing her eyes.
In November I attempted reflexology on her for the first time with the aide of her teacher assistant who positioned J.A. on her laps.
J.A. tended to wiggle her feet slightly but tolerated warm up and relaxation techniques. I began my session with working on the left foot first.
I worked on the plantar area using a general approach with moderate pressure, but detailed the spine, diaphragm and brain reflex area bilaterally. When I completed working on her right foot, she said "wow".
I continued to provide reflexology on her 3 times in January, without anyone present. The second session, I placed her on a large pillow that is firm and worked on her feet with moderate pressure.
She tolerated the left foot without moving her foot, but when working the right foot, J.A. tended to wiggle her foot with the thumb walking techniques, but tolerated. She lied still for the warm up techniques.
Holding her right foot firmly, I completed the session and she appeared calmer. I noticed she allowed me to direct her to sit at a table to play with sensory materials such as shaving cream and J.A. began touching the materials for her fingers.
The third session was better. Child went to the large round firm pillow and allowed me to position her on the pillow to work on her without resisting.
I began to work on her feet using moderate pressure and working each specific organ and gland. She seemed more focused and willing to sit for shaving cream and peg activities, after the reflexology session. (She usually prefers musical type of toys to play).
The next day, I walked into the classroom and J.A. seemed more focused and sustained eye contact with me for a few minutes. (Teachers reported she is responding better to their program demands).
This is a new behavior.
On the fourth session, child initiated going to pillow herself and positioning herself in lying.
This time, I noticed child's facial expression indicated that she seemed to be tuned in to reflexology techniques. (I worked on J.A. for approximately 10 minutes each session, as her therapy mandates are 30 minutes, 2x weekly.)
Afterwards she interacted with more toys. (Teachers reported she is reported she is responding to more work demands in the classrooms every day).
I performed reflexology on her the fifth time with her mother present. Afterwards I led child through an obstacle course set up in the therapy room.
She is now allowing me to lead her in completing the obstacle course with moderate physical prompting, holding her hand with one hand. (Prior I needed to hold and guide her with 2 hands).
Her mother was present and was amazed at her performance. I am witnessing that reflexology is helpful in assisting the population I work with to attain better focus and attention allowing for learning to occur.
This experience is giving me an incentive to make up a check list delineating child's current behavior, attention, and overall performance with the environment before receiving reflexology and progressively after receiving reflexology.
I also have noticed that the children who are most delayed, have increased creases on their little feet from the heel to the shaft of the toes. I will be pay attention particularly to the deep creases and describes them on the check list form, I am planning to design.
Since I began studying and applying reflexology techniques, I seem to be feel better equipped in servicing this population offering a well rounded and holistic session.
Parents expressed their delight in offering an additional modality.
- Irene Mykoliw, OT
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