Saturday, September 6, 2008

Closing the Craniosacral Files

Joy's craniosacral therapy journey so far:

Whose Woo Do You Do?
Woo, Take 2
JoyDad's Thoughts on Craniosacral Therapy
Update to the Craniosacral Files (Woo, Me?)

Yesterday Joy had her third and last craniosacral therapy session. In our story so far, we originally began this treatment with a set of initial concerns we thought CST might address that included biting, teeth-grinding, her intense need to chew, sleep issues (taking a long time to get to sleep at night plus waking up too early) and her stimmy intensity.

At yesterday's session, Joy pretty clearly recognized where we were as we drove up, and was happy to be there. She almost danced through the door, and gave the therapist (we're calling her H.) a great big grin. I think she wanted to play "chase" with H, and it started right away with a bit of a chase to get her to move from the waiting room to the therapy room.

Once in the therapy room, Joy pulled out some stimmy toys and H began following her around and doing her light-pressure "holds" on Joy, each time for the count of 10 if Joy would let her. Like the last session, the focus was on head and abdomen, though the last session's abdominal holds were pressing up into the diaphragm and this time she was working lower. She spoke of getting some sort of release in Joy's ileal valve. For Joy's head, the releases again had to do with heat in the cranium and generally loosening up the craniosacral flow. Once again, H. had to follow Joy around the room and work with her on the floor, and Joy (happily) attempted escape most every time but didn't bite or struggle nearly as hard as she's capable of.

One question on my mind was the strange fact that Joy's been having on-and-off low-grade fevers lately, which started before the CST but the last two times have occurred within a day or two after her CS sessions. Yes, that can happen, was the answer, as the body releases heat or "de-toxes". Part of a self-correcting mechanism, and if it happens it's usually only the first session or two. I'd have bought the explanation much better if H had said something about the possibility in advance... but she hadn't.

Another question on my mind, this one partially prompted by a comment from Barbara at TherExtras: why the schedule of treatments every two weeks, when I heard that another practitioner in town starts out on a schedule like weekly or even twice per week? She said that she used to start out with more frequent sessions, but had come to her present approach through the experience that a longer wait gave her clients' bodies a better chance to take full advantage of the self-correction that the CST enables. She said that she eventually became convinced that treating too often was actually interfering with the self-correction, stirring things up that were best left alone for the body to work out.

She said that the things she'd worked on with Joy in earlier sessions were still doing fine (the neck & hyoid bone, the diaphragm) and that if we had been interested in coming back, she thought Joy was in balance enough that she'd next want to see her in a month.

I was very open about the fact that we'd just not seen enough effect in Joy that we could attribute to the CST, to keep us interested in coming back. Especially in the areas of the biting and the stimming, there just hasn't been any relief. The only thing that has improved really is the night-time sleep, and maybe a little less teeth grinding, but the rhythm of those improvements don't really make sense with the timing of the sessions. With as complex a kiddo as Joy, it's very hard to know what change affects what outcome, and we're tweaking various therapies all the time. I think I'll need to do a whole separate post on the dilemma of trying to suss out what cause matches what effect. (Aacck, I've posted just about every day this week, and my list of post topics is still growing beyond the pace I'm writing them up! This can't last.)

H was not at all fazed by my report of not being able to identify improvements, or our decision to stop treatment. She said it sounds like we're doing good work to address Joy's ongoing sensory issues, she still felt good about what she said she'd accomplished with Joy's system, and she encouraged me to keep in touch if I had any questions or wanted to give things another try later. I liked her a lot, and can see why she's got such a loyal following. I think I'll miss her.

As far as post-session affect on the day of treatment goes, Joy has been different every time. First time was giggly/smiley, second time was stimmy/cranky, yesterday was mischievous and boundary-testing. She got cranky again before supper, but later in the evening mellowed out and she & JoyDad got some nice happy playtime.

So, case closed on the craniosacral files. What a fascinating ride! Thanks for tracking it with me.


datri said...

It's so hard figuring out "cause and effect". Too many variables. It's frustrating!

Even with hard data (I like to use her ABA charts to measure progress), it's sometimes hard to determine what caused it. Would it have happened anyway?

Niksmom said...

I hope this comes out right..,not had coffee yet!

It is likely you will not ever fully tease out which cauae goes w/which effect. THings are so interrelated and connected that it's not always so easy to see the 1:1 or that the connections end up not being what you would expect.

That being said, it makes perfect sense to me that there will not be any one specific "solution" or resolution but rather a constellation of inter-related therpies, treatments, approaches, what have you.

Maybe the CST helps w/some very subtle thing for Joy but that without knowing what else to do in conjunction it is, by itself, worthless.

I hope that made sense. I thin I' need to go get coffee! xo

mama edge said...

I've been (too?) cynical about alternative therapies over the years, and while I regret a few of the things we tried, I also regret dozens of things we didn't.

Looking forward to seeing what you try next.

Anonymous said...

It seems that, since there is still so much that is unknown about autism, it is worthwhile to try out some of these alternate treatments and therapies. This does assume, of course, that you have researched it and gathered whatever info you could to at least feel confident that it could help and won't harm (which I know you guys do!!). In this case, it sure seemed like something that could have helped Joy, so it was worth a try. And I wonder if there might be ways that it helped Joy that you don't even realize, even if it didn't seem to improve the issues you were most concerned about for her. It certainly is a complex puzzle to figure out what is an effect from something specific that you do or change, and what is a normal path that would have occurred anyway, and what is a unique issue for the problems that are being faced. I have found this to be a challenge with other situations and conditions I have faced with my kids (not autism). It almost seems as if us parents need to become experts in order to know what "experts" to use for our child, and what courses of treatments we should choose from these "experts." I'm glad you gave this therapy a chance for Joy, and sorry that it didn't have the results you hoped. I'll continue to hope that there is a therapy out there that will help Joy, and somehow you will find it!! In the meantime, I'm glad that JoyDad got to have some happy playtime with Joy, whether or not it was due to the therapy!!!

Mimzy said...

Thanks for this series of posts. CST is something I've heard of and have never really wrapped my head around. Hearing your experience has helped me understand quite a bit better! Thanks for linking to the outside sources as well!