I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and Massage Therapist - "That's an interesting combination!", is what I often hear. So here's 'My Story': I was a Speech-Language Pathologist, and Assistant Director of a clinic in Queens for over 10 years. I saw patients with a variety of disabilities and had worked with adults and children with autism throughout my school years as well. During this time I acquired many 'tools for my toolbox' and believe that each child is different and approaches/techniques should be tailored for that. My license in Speech-Language Pathology requires me to maintain it with CEU's (continuing education credits), one of my many workshops/courses was one on Craniosacral/Myofascial Release and the Autism Population. It was interesting, a little weird, we felt each others 'rhythms' and did 'off the body work'. I had never heard of 'off the body work' before this and was certainly not a person who was into Yoga, meditation, or recognizing my 'rhythm' - never mind anybody else's! I left there with some CEU's and a new 'tool'.
Soon after, in one of my sessions, I was with a boy that was diagnosed with autism. He had been coming to me for several years already and tolerated his sessions but exhibited self-stimulatory behaviors, significant language deficits and that day a bit of aggression. He was yelling, his body shaking and hands wringing or swiping at me. Aggressive behavior was rare for him; he was getting bigger (unfortunately I was not and possibly shrinking if anything) and he had me cornered. Negative behaviors were something that I was trained to deal with but this was different, something was wrong with him. He could't communicate with me, one of the few people that could usually understand him and he was angry. What would happen as he gets bigger and is met with more complicated requests, by people unfamiliar? I used my training to safely get him and myself to 2 kid size chairs and put my 2 hands on his head - exactly what we did in that 'weirdo' workshop just days before. I said to myself, "I've got no idea what I'm doing but here goes nothing". I didn't close my eyes our of fear of what advantage he had over me considering that I was now defenseless with both my hands occupied; and I thank God that I didn't because I will never forget the beautiful sight that followed....that angry boy's mouth became silent, body still and slowly his 2 hands rose and landed softly on mine and he held them there in quiet for what felt like hours. Don't get me wrong, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING...but whatever it was, it worked. I vowed then and there to learn more about what Myofascial Release (MFR) is and why it had helped him.
I researched MFR and discovered John F. Barnes was the person to learn it from. I took course after course and it became a very important part of my practice. These children, that 'don't like to be touched' were asking for MFR; instead of working for M & M's they were requesting "Purple Table". That spoke volumes for the work that was being done to me as well as to their parents.
Simultaneously, I was learning how MFR can help me me with my own quality of life. I suffered from debilitating migraine headaches and began seeing MFR therapists for my own treatment. It was, IS, quite a journey. Parents began reporting changes they were seeing from increased language, a smoother gait to "he finally pooped" and requesting whether I can work on their other children and/or spouses. I couldn't, by law I was only able to work on those individuals with a speech and language deficit. This planted the seed to take my work further. As a now Intermediate/Advanced JFB MFR Therapist I entered school to get a NYS License in Massage Therapy (where they spent 1 day on MFR coursework, how ironic).
Now I can say "yes". "Yes" to bringing in your child, his sibling, your wife, your uncle....I have added more 'tools to my toolbox' and become a walking, talking 'weirdo' workshop. Except I don't think its so weird anymore. I don't get migraines anymore, that boy is graduating 12th grade in June and I can say that my profession is my dream job. Let the journey continue....