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  • You can’t write it up like that , Randy said.

    I looked up from my notes. The rest of the Pupil Evaluation Team turned to him.

    Randy was the principal, the administrator on the team. He had three schools across a rural District and was on the road more than he was anywhere, but the bucks started and stopped with his say so.

    I mean, what is the Superintendent going to think, he said. I’m paying for laying on of hands? What budget line is that?

    I had to agree it sounded that way.

    Johnny was in grade 2 that year. He was hell on wheels and nothing anyone had done seemed to have made a bit of difference.

    The playground was the worst. He went off at the least provocation. Temper like a flash of lightening and fists just as fast. Eyes drilled like lasers when he was mad which was all the time. Anything and sometimes nothing at all set him off.

    Parents complained. Their kids weren’t safe.

    Other teachers complained. He didn’t hold anything back when he lost it and his wiry body was fearsome. They were afraid. He didn’t belong they said.

    Sue and I set it up so that one of us was always out at recess. We made him a recess plan with check-ins. Johnny had a menu of recess areas and games that were sanctioned. He checked in at the start to say where he’d be and afterwards to talk about how it went. Tight as a strait-jacket.

    He hated it. The watching. The hovering. The accountability. He just wanted to be.

    We brought in specialists, read reports. Adapted plans, revised plans. Met and met again.

    And now we had reached the last and desperate measure. The Occupational Therapist had read a new study and found a specialist from Southern Maine, a cranial-sacral therapist. It was new to us, on the alternative fringe and several blocks past cutting edge.

    It sounded like science if you squinted a bit but if you listened it had a more than passing resemblance to, well, laying on of hands.

    The therapist explained the history. A Victorian gentleman scientist designs a special hat that put specific and adjustable pressure on the plates of the skull resulting in pressure on specific brain areas. He wore the hat and recorded the symptoms. They bore a striking similarity to various syndromes and conditions he saw in his patients.

    The story did not help the principal’s frame of mind one bit.

    The next bit was, if anything, worse.

    Johnny had been in a car accident several years ago. X-rays and tests at the time recorded no damage. But, the therapist explained, the soft tissues of the body hold the memory of past trauma.

    We all nodded.

    She said the memory of trauma had set up tensions in Johnny.

    We nodded.

    She said these tensions had pushed and pulled the plates of the skull and put pressure on the brain.

    Another round of nods.

    She explained the pressure yielded the symptoms we were trying to deal with.


    She said that therapy sessions could help allow the plates to shift and relieve these tensions and …

    What would the therapy look like, the principal asked, imagining modern machines and imaging and labs. Looking for the picture that included a smiling Superintendent.

    It would look like I was just touching his back and neck, she said.

    And that was the problem.

    After we went around a few more times I asked how much it would cost.

    Is that all, said Randy. Just write it as therapy and let’s check in 6 weeks.

    The Special Education Director did a behaviour count in the class during reading workshop for a baseline.

    It’s like popcorn in there, she said.

    She showed me the sheet. More than 50 incidents in less than 5 minutes.

    Do you notice a difference, she asked six weeks later, before she did the follow-up observation.

    Sue and I shrugged. We were tired.

    The Special Education Director showed us the second observation. Less than 10 incidents in 30 minutes.

    It is hard to see success as it evolves. It is even harder to take the first step.
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