â€śI love mama.â€ť This murmured by a nine-year-old snuggled up and holding on to me like a little monkey, his head burrowed into my neck.
This from a child who hasnâ€™t hugged me in a long time, not like this. I am sad to say that I didnâ€™t realize these hugs had gone fugitive until they reappeared three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago, when we began our HANDLE activities.
HANDLE stands for Holistic Approach to Neurodevelopment and Learning Efficiency.
What Handle looks like (around here): walking deliberately through a hula hoop, lightly holding our cupped hands over our ears, getting wrapped up in a blanket, tapped rhythmically on the skull, playing patty-cake, and blowing beads across the table.* What Handle looks like is one suddenly cuddly kid.
The figuring was that we wanted to do something after allâ€¦ for Orlando. That in moving along the continuum of â€śhe is learning in his own timeâ€ť and â€ślet’s give him all the support he needsâ€ť we decided last fall that we would look into giving him more support. We werenâ€™t sure what that would look like but we stayed open.
A lot has happened over the year, especially in the last six months, and it has unfolded so naturally, but not always perfectly gracefully.
Suffice it to say that after all the seeking, newness and organizing, after the worry and integrating information from new people and discarding suggestions that didn’t fit so well, after all the shifting of my perspective, after moving through sadness and hopefulness while staying in tune with my intuition… I feel, fundamentally, that I have come to know my oldest son more intimately than I did before. That I can see him more clearly. And that we have found something he needs.
Nothing tells me that more than how good he feelsâ€¦ The smile that comes over his face when we do our Handle activities. How he feels better about himself, and has never, for a second, thought there is anything “wrong” with him. How hungry his body and mind are for this exact type of attention, how brimming with love and gratitude he is to me for providing it.
How grateful I am.
We will be meeting with our Handle practitioner every month for the next six months, having the opportunity to expand or add activities as necessary. Both Orlando and I are fully included in every appointment, which I love. And all the activities take less than a half a hour a day (spread out throughout the day) and the emphasis is on doing them with gentleness.
There is so much that remains to be seen, and so much more to learn, and much more fun to be had.
* I feel compelled to put a disclaimer here, in that these activities are recommended specifically for Orlando, based on how he experiences the world and where he might need more support. While these activities are simple and somewhat commonplace, they are not necessarily beneficial for everyone. That is what my Handle practitioner told us when we met with her. Thank you for keeping this in mind!