We have been seeing a rolfer over the past month.
I had never heard of rolfing until it was recommended by a friend whose son also has cerebral palsy.
I can never properly explain (or to be honest, fully understand!) what a lot of alternative therapies like this do, so I will quote from the website www.rolf.org
“Rolfing® Structural Integration is named after its founder Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Dr. Rolf began her inquiry more than fifty years ago, devoting her energy to creating a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organized the whole body in gravity.Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system and eventually named her work Structural Integration.”
Without fully understanding what it actually was, it certainly sounded like it was worth looking into, especially considering the incredible success we’ve had with our long term osteopathic treatments which seemed (sort of) on the same lines. So off we went.
Our rolfer is a really nice guy. He is very relaxed and easy going and clearly had worked a lot with children. He has a great manner. BC liked him immediately. He also knew quite a bit about CP, which always impresses me.
Our main focus was on BC’s oral motor function and speech. I have been long frustrated by how SLLOOOWWW progress is with his speech development. I’d never realised that CP would affect his speech at all. This was partly because I knew absolutely nothing about CP until BC was diagnosed, but even once I’d started reading up, it took me by surprise because we never really had major feeding issues – he left the hospital at 3 weeks of age fully breastfed and whilst he was a fussy eater who took a long time to manage textured food, he still did OK. So for his speech to be so dramatically affected has been the perplexing part of our journey so far.
He spent a lot of the first appointment working under BC’s chin and around his jaw on the outside. BC was lying on a massage type table and didn’t seem to mind what he was doing, but then that’s very typical of BC. He is the ideal patient in many ways because he just loves being the central focus of attention! And he seems to have an innate understanding that people who work with him are there to help. What’s more, he’s had similar and regular sorts of treatment (ie. osteopathy) since he was a wee baby, so it’s not that new for him.
Even after the first visit, we saw some results. BC’s sound production seemed to have improved quite a bit. He was attempting a few more 2 syllable words – most notably “boring” (prounced baw – ing) (used to a response to me asking him why he didn’t want to go to the toilet!) and nappy (nah -ee). Clear production of the “ee” sound was in fact quite new too.
The second appointment was 2 weeks later – just 1 week ago. This time he worked quite a bit INSIDE BC’s mouth. I was really quite nervous about how that would work because we’d never had anyone working INSIDE his mouth before. He’s not even been to see a dentist yet.
The rolfer put a little chocolate spread on his finger as a “sweetener” and BC coped really well with the treatments. It was just a minute or two at a time. And after each turn, he had a good at “treating” mum’s mouth. That made him very happy.
Within days, we saw results. He’s now attempting to sound out lots of multi syllabic words which he had never done before. He’s still got pretty poor control of his consonants, but the vowel sounds are much clearer. He has started trying to sing along to songs and seems a lot more confident about what his mouth can (or might be able to) do.
We have another appointment next week. I am excited to see how it will continue.
I don’t believe in a “magic cure”, but I certainly do think that combined, lots of different things help. And I am now officially a rolfing convert ;-).