There are populations in the society who give their best to hold their work and world in place. However, it often is not manageable and their needs are frequently overlooked as they are already a hand supporting another life. The article unfolds the stirrups that surfaced in a 6 hour session of movement therapy that stretched over 3 weeks, for the teaching population of 12, of Bubbles Centre for Autism, Bangalore.
The term “caregiver” holds a variety of population such as the nurse population, the teaching population, the caretakers and caregivers in general. In layman terms, a caregiver is usually referred to as a person who is either unpaid or paid, who helps another individual with an impairment, with his/her activities of daily living. In this study group, the caregivers referred to are the teaching population of Bubbles Centre for Autism, Bangalore. As the name suggests, it is a special school for children with autism. The effort put in for the functioning of the school was different, as compared to other schools for normal children, with focus on academics and extra-curricular activities as well. Apart from the required effort and energy for teaching, a lot of physical input is also needed, along with mental stability. The sessions held, enabled them to surface and unfold, those untold difficulties faced by each individual.
A prior knowledge accompanied us, when I started the session, that the interaction with the group was going to be short. Therefore, it was decided to work on the peripheral aspects of their needs. The first session started off with a brief introduction of me and my co-facilitator, and the participants. The prime focus of the session was to get an idea about whether they really knew about themselves, and whether they could hear themselves. Through the session a few points were noted from their body language and the words they laid down. A clear point that popped out was their inability to maintain eye contact. Also, the group was not willing enough to express much through words, and a there was a lack of willingness to come for the session. For the following sessions, care was taken to design activities in such a way, so as to get them to let things out of their body more and also to get them to take care of their body and themselves.
The following sessions were structured in such a way, so as to get them to participate in the sessions and also to make them talk or put down their thoughts and feelings. The beauty of the transformation that took place from session to session as compared to the first session was simply amazing; from lack of willingness to attend the session to waiting to attend the session, and from unwillingness to express to expressing to their hearts’ content, which made the sessions extend to almost 2 hours sometimes. There was a drastic change in their love for self and a realization of their needs and steps required to work out. This beautified the work even more. As a token of takeaway, one session was dedicated to teaching them how to take care of their body and superficial bodily problems, which occurred on a daily basis. The response was overwhelming when they were taught techniques on body postures that could be incorporated in daily life. They took efforts in practicing those in their day to day life and the appreciation received was just so beautiful.
Towards the closing of the final session, the participants were asked to draw out whatever they felt like and we got these touching mixture of colours and figures [as in the below fig.1(a)]. One gave these words for her drawing [fig.1(b)], “It was dark before you came in our lives, which is why it is in black. But then, you came as a sunshine and now we are like smiling flowers.”
Caregiving is a job which can be done properly and efficiently only when the heart and soul are united for it. It is a job which needs an extra bit of effort to be a medium for the receiver and the family of the receiver. Often the needs of the caregivers are overlooked. When someone thinks, its usually about the care that is given to the affected person – the one on the receiving end. Hardly efforts are taken or even thought of, to ask the caregivers of the difficulty they face to give care and if their life is affected by it. The experience received in this short span was a beauty. It made us realize that it is not an easy job to become a teacher in a school for the special population. It requires both physical and mental stability to work well. But, it cannot be done when there is an imbalance between the two. The happy realization of their needs and the ability to fulfill even a little of those, made the experience even more beautiful. Also, helping them to realize to love themselves and what they need to do, which they discovered by themself, made us appreciate ourselves for our work. Even though not much, we were content with the impact we made in such a short interaction. Meetings and partings are a part of life and here too we had to part.
I would like to thank Creative Movement Therapy Association of India (CMTAI) and Bubbles Centre for Autism, Bangalore for giving us an opportunity to work with the teaching staff of Bubbles. I would also like to thank Tasneem Jiruwala for being my co-facilitator.