I Trust Your Body

When some kids come to me, they don’t know how to break outside of the school model. They aren’t sure what to explore, with the freedom to explore whatever they want. They aren’t sure what to create, given access to loads of art materials and free time and space to do it. They aren’t accustomed to free play, even though children are play-ers by nature.

School doesn’t make a lot of time and space for free thinking, exploring, creating, and playing whatever your brain thinks, and brains will start to rewire themselves for whatever they’re doing for long periods of time.

So some kids will walk into my room and look for a desk to sit down at, or ask me what they’re supposed to do or what I am telling them to do.

Sometimes I’ll scaffold support, by suggesting choices, but always verbalizing and accepting that “no, none of those” is a choice too. Sometimes it’ll be incremental, as we start out sitting at a table and then one day I suggest “hey, you know we could sit on the couch if you want to”, and then another day I observe, “I notice you seem to like swinging on the swing, you know you can do that whenever you want. It’s not a ‘reward’ at the end of our time here.”

And then another day I observe, “I notice you love going upside down. Did you know some people have more ideas in their brain when they go upside down?”

And then another day they self-advocate to me: “I’m going to leave this project and go upside down so my brain gets more ideas,” and I reply, “love it. If you want, you can take the project with you and *do* it upside down! I certainly don’t mind.”

Reaffirming, slowly, over the course of weeks: I trust you. I trust you to listen to your body and brain. Your body and brain are trustworthy. Movement is not bad. Movement gives your brain power. You’re free to explore that power in here, and then I’ll help you wrap it back up and carry it back to class.

Sometimes kids who don’t understand what to do may ask me, “why am I even in here? What is OT?”

And I say, “my job is two things. One is to help kids figure out their brain and body. Everybody’s brain and body have cool ideas, but those ideas come out different ways, so I help kids figure theirs out. And I help schools figure out how to let kids work on those things. Because a lot of schools only know one way to work on things, so they think if you aren’t doing that way, then you aren’t doing it right, but it turns out there’s lots of ways.”

[Image descriptions: four different images of me going upside down on the bolster swing in my action room and still working on an iPad project. All four of these were something I observed my kid doing, but I’ve recreated with my own body. Lying on my stomach, lying on my back, propping on the floor on my forearms with my legs up on the swing, and clinging to the swing like a sloth. All of these give great proprioceptive sensory input and vestibular sensory input! I am a person with a floof of teal blue hair wearing a Starry Night sweatshirt and yellow jeans held up by a rainbow striped belt. End descriptions.]