PROGRESS REPORT FOR GEO
Therapist : Katherine Rudolph – Exploring the Word in Colour and Speech
- Reasons for Referral
Geo has recently come from Beijing, China. He is nine years old and speaks little English at this time. He has problems with ‘centering between right and left’, and shows a deficiency of attentiveness, insecurity, and mildly autistic behaviour. All the new experiences in a foreign land need to be assimilated. However Geo has a sunny disposition. He enjoys numbers, music, and movement. His mother is positive about his condition and determined to help him improve and adjust to his new situation in Melbourne. I have enjoyed working with them, two to three sessions per week, in the months of May- June 2010. After a pause, he will be returning to therapy.
- Course of Therapy
Sequences of movement were used with a morning verse for ‘centring’ : ‘The earth is sure beneath my feet…’ Formative Speech began with an emphasis on the English alphabet. Animal names were given for each letter in sequence, and then translated by his mother. Geo was enthusiastic about the animals, and could throw a small rubber ball at a target while speaking the names. Each time the sequence had to be repeated for him to remember. Geo was very energetic about carrying through with this effort of concentration. Rapport and eye contact were established. His memory of sounds and words connected to images is slow in developing. Several poems with gestures have since been used in this process: ‘Where is Thumbkin…etc’
The second part of the beginning sessions consisted of a kind of clay modelling with coloured plasticine. A small block of marble was used as a tiny sheltered landscape habitat for a sculpted turtle. In this guided therapy Geo helped roll the cylinders and place them together to form the little pond. An evergreen tree twig was used for a tree. Geo appreciated the turtle, but had a hard time with the small motor skills needed to roll the plasticine. His energy is so strong that he can’t yet control his pressure on the material. Later a plasticine ball with Geo’s name inscribed was made in a similar way.
Geo’s vision is slightly impaired by a tendency to be cross-eyed. At times this condition seems to correct itself. Eventually the problem can be dealt with specifically. Further eye examinations will be necessary.
The third part of the sessions was spent with a musical pentatonic sequence – a melody using the syllables Ka Lay See Fo Mu. Geo immediately responded to the melody and repeated the sequence of consonants, which is given by Rudolf Steiner to direct the flow of breath from the palatal to the dental and out through the labial sounds. This process helps to establish fluency, aided by the natural flow of breath. Other melodies were also used in later sessions.
- Impulse for Speech and Artistry
Geo is still deeply connected to his native Chinese. Singing and verses have helped to strengthen his voice and self-confidence. In rhythm and music, Geo can forget his initial shyness. It is still hard to tell what his possibilities of self-expression in English will be. His I.Q. is also difficult to discern. According to his mother’s report, he had some trouble in China with attentiveness, concentration, and establishing rapport with his peers. He would need a companion or a friend of his age to help him communicate in a group. Singing or speaking together in a group may help him to adjust. However his own desire and need to communicate will probably be the deciding factor in his improvement. Positive reinforcement for socialising and making friends can be successful, but the real reward must be in the social act itself. Geo should be allowed, as much as possible, to choose his own situations and set his own goals. If he determines to do something out of his own will-power, he has a better chance of success.
Real situations concerning telling time in English are to be coming; these, for example, will give Geo a ‘real’ flow of impulse for learning. He has a strong sense of self will, which has to be directed somehow, to the transition into new situations which he will soon encounter. He wants to win and must be patient, and be well commended for the steps he makes. He is challenged by life’s circumstances.
Geo responds to the ‘centring’ effect of colour in colouring with oil pastels. He needs the water-colour as well, but has to be encouraged to ‘paint gently’ with that medium. Red is very important for him at this time in conjunction with the embracing and protective quality of blue. He is not used to seeing colour- proportion; that is ‘how much measure of red for the measure of the blue quality’. This is, potentially, a lesson in social life, as the colours are all ‘individualities’ with their own qualities and proportions. Line drawings are therefore not encouraged at this point, rather masses and surfaces of colour itself. How does red feel with blue, how with green? As Geo’s social abilities progress, so will his feelings for colour, which is the soul of he human-being and of the entire cosmos. Stories with the colours can be of use.
- Breathing and Flow of Speech
Geo’s breath comes more from his chest than his diaphragm. Thinking and speaking the words and components of rhythms and rhymes allow him to forget himself and throw the balls ‘on the breath’. This deepens the breathing and breath control as the word or syllable is uttered. It is a self-assertive movement and will gradually help with self-expression.
The English rhythm has shorts and longs, whereas the Chinese is more ‘sponde’, where each syllable has the same emphasis. In ‘walking and talking’, that is moving and stepping the rhythms of English, lies a natural way to develop rhythms that are new for Geo. This, along with gesture can develop the
‘right-left differentiation’ as well, as in ‘Inch by inch, row by row….’etc.
- Balance of Vowels – Quality of Voice
Geo’s consonants are stronger than his vowels. The vowels carry the feeling, which is so important to his present development. Eurhythmy gestures for the vowels have been experienced. He enjoys this new expression, which will help overcome shyness.
- Balance of Consonants
Geo can speak and repeat all English consonants except for the ‘S’ sound which he lisps at present. This is a sign that he needs to incarnate inwardly. Pushing the ‘S’ sound over the lips like the ‘Th’ means that he is trying to move out into the sense world before establishing his inner sense of self. Thus, not only the ‘S’ exercises for corrective speech will help his condition, but also his coming to terms with what is inside him, accepting himself, and being at one with his own soul will bring the tongue up behind the two front teeth. He must not be afraid to make mistakes. There must be no regretting mistakes at this point; only the striving to improve, as such, is correct.
Continued speech, singing and movement, along with gesture, as well as easy striding and speaking to foster self-confidence (and humour), will help George to develop. Alliterative verses will also bring courage and release tension. Colour helps to open the feeling life. Patient practice and repetition of vocabulary are to be constantly carried out.
During the unfolding of events, a sequence of words and movements designed to bring the right and left sides of the brain to centre has begun to help the incarnating process. ‘Brave Seed True…’etc. This process should be taken seriously and practiced correctly at home as well as in the sessions, until George can do it himself. It is a seemingly unassuming task but has been proven to be of great value for ‘centring, for its spatial orientation and its ‘grounding’ effect. This will eventually be one aspect of the therapy helping George to control his autism, promote concentration, and ‘hold his own’ in the social sphere.