Saturday, August 23, 2008

Update to the Craniosacral Files (Woo, Me?)

Forthwith, the promised update on Joy's Friday CST session.

Joy's had a very "stimmy" week, on the whole, and yesterday was no exception. Our cranio-sacral practitioner, H., was running a little bit late when we arrived, but showed us into the therapy room so Joy could play. Joy quickly pulled out a whole bunch of stimmy toys (kooshes, bristle blocks) and distributed them around the room, bouncing from one toy to the other like a ping-pong ball and squishing them between her hands and chewing on them. She's got a very intense interaction with her stim-items, in which she tenses up her shoulders and face and jaw and vocalizes through her teeth: "eeee" or "gooo". We've been concerned about it and hoping that cranio-sacral can provide some assistance.

When H. came into the room, Joy greeted her with a big smile but continued to go at it with the toys. H. began to follow her around and try to take hold of her, and Joy played it almost like a chase game. She didn't mind when H. "got" her but she did try to struggle away between the giggles. She never did really accept the holds this time, though perhaps was somewhat more relaxed toward the end.

First H. worked on Joy's belly, saying that her diaphragm was tight and it could be making it hard to catch a good deep breath. She again did the trick of counting as she pressed her fingers up toward Joy's diaphragm, so that Joy would have the sense that an endpoint would be coming. Joy thought they were playing another game, and every time H. got to "1, 2, 3" Joy would chime in with a big "Go!"

Next was the head. H. said that Joy's head was very tight and she was holding a lot of heat in her cranium. Joy has been running pretty hot on and off for the last few weeks, and the tension thing makes at least some sense because of what Joy does during the stimming (though is it cause, or effect?) H. spoke of two potential reasons behind the stimming. One would be a response to the tightness, as when you have a headache and you put her hands to your head as if pushing on the outside will help the internal pressure. Second would be a sensory-need attempt to get a biochemical burst akin to a runner's high -- which could be more efficiently provided by heavy-work such as jumping, crawling, crashing, pulling.

Anyway, H. spent the rest of the session working on Joy's head and upper chest, occasionally checking the "rhythms" by holding her legs. She said she did manage to release a lot of heat and tension in the head, that she'd gotten the rhythms stronger and more even, and that Joy's neck (where she'd worked last time) was still in good shape. I asked what to look for in the coming days, and she said to look for a reduction in the duration and intensity of the stimminess.

Joy remained intense with her stims through the whole session, through the day and the evening as well.

H. did give two particularly helpful pieces of advice. One was the advice to try and guide the stimming behavior into something more heavy-work related, games of jumping or running or trying to pull away. The other was that she identified that Joy was dehydrated, which impressed me because in fact we've had some trouble getting enough liquids into her lately. H. tied the dehydration into the heat-in-the-cranium thing. Whatever one thinks of that particular link, we do need to get Joy to drink more. So both of those were things that it was helpful to hear.

I'll be taking Joy back at least one more time, in another two weeks. Unfortunately I can't send JoyDad, because there weren't any Saturday appointments! Oh well.

Meanwhile, speaking of JoyDad, one of his colleagues forwarded him an interesting e-mail announcement: a CST training session for laypersons.

This is a hands-on session which will teach techniques to relieve pain and promote relaxation by using basic CranioSacral Therapy techniques:
  • Discover how to recognize the rhythm of the craniosacral system.

  • Learn a basic CranioSacral Therapy techniques that you can perform yourself.

  • Experience a sense of control over your innate ability to provide healing energy to others and yourself.

  • Gain a greater understanding of your role in your own health and well being.
So for slightly more than the cost of a single session with H. we could learn to do it ourselves, in three short hours! Or not. We're busy that evening anyway.

Sigh. I'm not feeling nearly as hopeful about this craniosacral thing as I was.


therextras said...

Hi, JoyMama, You are a really good descriptive writer. (I'm not surprised.) I kind of wish you could attend the rhthym-training session so you could tell us (me) about it.

Despite your reduced hope in CS, you and JoyDad went into it both open-minded and skeptical. I don't sense regret from you, exactly. A trial on any treatment that has low side-effect risk can be very helpful to the parental psyche for preventing guilt later. I can't remember which blog this week, but I read a post where the parent asked "am I doing enough?"

Continuing an expensive treatment is a tough decision but ultimately, only you and JoyDad can decide if it is worth it - if it makes a meaningful difference in your family life.

"Heavy work" is a long-time OT technique (er, I've been using that term and technique for 30 years). I just added that to my list of blog topics, thanks.

Likely you can get better recommendations for increasing fluid intake from someone other than me. But I will think on it and if I have a novel thought, I'll pass it along. Barbara

JoyMama said...

TherExtras/Barbara - Thanks! No, I don't think there's any regret. Qualified disappointment is more like it, for me at least.

The "am I doing enough" thing can be a huge trap, in my opinion. You could drain your savings, go into debt, devote every waking moment, etc., and still feel you're not "doing enough," especially if you've set your sights on a cure and it's not forthcoming. But the balance and the peace of mind are by no means easy to find, and I do struggle with that.

I'll have to write at some point about how it feels different to evaluate the results of a therapy when the science isn't there to back it up...

rhemashope said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with CS. It's very interesting to me, and although you may not necessarily be seeing results, it may be helping in ways that are not as obvious. In any case, it's a learning experience and we are benefitting from it as well (as you share it with us).

Trish said...

Heavy work and drink more fluids, huh? I would be feeling disappointed as well, considering the first is a standard sensory integration recommendation and the second is something most people need to do.

I appreciate you sharing your experience and don't feel so bad about not pursuing this therapy when everyone was talking it up around here. :)