Case Study: Working with a Young Child

By Lucia Schuette-Ginsburg

Clara was six years old when she came for lessons with me. She was a thin, pretty and a rather timid looking child, and for a six year old she moved awkwardly with her feet turned slightly inward. Her parents were worried because her second toes had grown over her big toes, a condition which runs in the family. Her grandmother had severe difficulties in walking, a trouble as a result of the same problem, and the parents wanted to help their child if possible. Later, I found out that she was a restless child until she learned to read. In reading she found a way to please herself, because she did not like to move.

(In the first part of the process an informal evaluation is carried out to assess the child's patterns of action, how she organizes herself in life.)

When we entered my working space, which has a lot of mats on the floor and a table, Flora walked to the table and put herself sitting there. She was clear that that was supposed to be her place. Her feet were dangling down. I placed supporting pads under her feet so that she could sit with her feet on a surface. I noticed that her feet turned inward, and that she was collapsed in her lower back, holding herself upright by straightening her upper chest. This allowed her to look forward. I asked her if she knew why she came to me and she said because of her toes. She was wearing socks so I asked her what was wrong with them. She pulled off her socks and showed me her feet, which were very big with long toes, the second one grown over the big toe and very sweaty and wet. I asked her if she has trouble with them and she said no, only that getting nice fashionable shoes is not so easy sometimes.

(The assessment continues bringing in the choices and desires of the child and the things she has accomplished. Curiosity is essential on the part of the practitioner. Note that the assessment does not involve a 'diagnosis' but a revealing of important aspects of the child in her life situation and in the family.)

This was kind of a problem for me because here I had worried parents and there I had a child who did not seem to have a problem with what her parents were worried about. I said: "What do you like to do?" She said that she loves to read more then anything else. I was surprised; she could read with 6? "Yes," she said proudly, but she did not like to wear her glasses. I found out that she was farsighted +5.5, but I could not believe that she could read without glasses. I fetched a children's book and sure enough, she could read. What was that? I am farsighted +3 and I cannot read a sentence without glasses. The mother said that they had consulted several eye doctors about the problem. They all prescribed eyeglasses but did not wonder about how she could read. I decided to leave this issue alone for the moment and asked her, what she wanted to do better. She said that she has sports now as a first grader and she cannot do a somersault; besides that she is bad at sports. I said that maybe we can do something about that. She agreed in a friendly way. I found her very easy to work with through all the lessonss I gave her. She was curious and happy to have my full attention while moving. With growing trust and self-esteem, she asked for things or told me when she did not want to try something. In the beginning she was always patient.