In my last blog entry (‘Look at me’), I mentioned my first session with Ian and sitting him in a ‘big wooden chair’. Perhaps an odd choice, putting a three-year-old in an adult-sized chair, but when I started I didn’t have anything else and grabbed the nearest seat I could find.
When the therapy team got together, the therapists – experienced, knowledgeable – all wanted Ian to sit in a child-sized chair. The speech therapist particularly wanted Ian’s feet on the ground, so I went shopping for child-sized furniture and bought a blue plastic table and a couple of brightly coloured small plastic chairs. The table had a centre panel of pink and yellow flowers, a sticker, and Ian made it his life’s mission to remove it. It distracted him so much we had to cover the flowers with a sheet of plain paper. And then the paper became an object of interest because Ian knew the sticker was underneath …
At first, when Ian’s feet touched the ground, he would stand up. A great avoidance technique. A lot of time was spent getting him to sit down again. Sometimes, when he sat with his feet on the floor, he would rock the chair, leaning further and further backwards. I don’t remember him ever over-balancing (he was too clever for that) but for a while we had to put the chair against the wall so Ian couldn’t lean back.
I questioned the use of the small chair. In the big wooden adult-sized chair, these things didn’t happen. Ian sat cross-legged. His top half could move – and frequently did – but his bum stayed in his seat. It was easy to manage his legs by placing a hand over his crossed ankles.
It affected his eye-contact too. When Ian was in a child-sized chair, an adult (also crouched uncomfortably on a child-sized chair) was head and shoulders above him. When Ian was in the big wooden chair, I knelt in front of him and our heads were the same height. See the picture above, from one of our earliest sessions. Surely this was better?
I persisted with the wooden chair. It was solid and dependable. I liked it. I was closer to Ian, kneeling in front of him, and I suppose as his mother that was easier for me, to be more physically involved with him, rather than spatially removed, in a separate chair, our knees keeping us apart.
Ian, being an amenable little lad, got used to both.