Crawling stage of development: Part 1 of a case study
Here I would like to share some clinical observations with a client whose posture and movements showed definite fighting against life. As a dance movement psychotherapist the ‘psychotherapy ’ comes through the dancing and not the other way around. When he moved he had a presence that was charming and this is the point that we can meet our clients and move towards health.
He crawled on the floor and pulled his body along the floor in many sessions. A hypothesis is of a developmental delay occurring during the first years of life, this including cognitive development. If Michaels dependency needs were not met, he may have opted to stand up too early missing the necessary full amount of time his musculature would have needed in the crawling stage.
The physical impulse leads to the way the child organizes himself later in life, which has implications and is linked to intellectual and emotional functioning (Penfield, 2001: 111). These movement patterns lay down structure in the neurological system and influence brain development. If the person has not had, the opportunities given him to master these bodily patterns, he will probably find some compensation – which is generally not quite as effective and does not contribute to the next phase of development (Hackney, 2001).
There was some element in his crawling and remaining supine on the floor with his head propped up as if being so under the ground and trying to see on top of the earth, that seemed to me as if Michael had not discovered getting up and standing up. This relates to Erikson’s (1980), psychosocial toddler stage of ‘Autonomy vs. Shame – Will’ (Boyd and Bee, 2006) when the child learns to be sure of himself or not. His experiences at this time would have had a deep effect on his unconscious and behaviours.
When the child gets to his feet during the second year of life, the movements in this vertical plane are concerned with intentionality, in ‘standing ones ground’ as well as discovering shame. Distress and despair are linked to downward movements. (Kestenberg et al., 1999)
The nervous system of each human being must go through a series of developmental stages so the brain can operate fully. This process, called neurological organization, happens between birth and eight years of age. The first year is critical. If babies don’t have the opportunity to roll, crawl, push and pull, babble gaps in development will show later in life.
Coordinating vertical and horizontal eye tracking is an essential skill for reading and writing that grows from this process (Gilbert, 2001) and could explain Michael’s low intelligence.