My son has autism. He is four years old. He barely speaks and his fine motor skills are not developed: he can’t get dressed on his own and can’t draw. Actually he couldn’t do it before. Thanks to sessions with Sophie my son is now able to do these things. I will never forget the day when we came back home after a session with Sophie and I asked Semyon to draw a cherry, a tree and the sun. Previously I helped him by holding his arm and drawing for him, but that time he drew everything himself. I was stunned! So were the teachers who teach Semyon at home. Later he drew a fish on the sand with a stick and proudly said “fish!” It was a big achievement for us as we had never drawn this picture before. Semyon also had narrow fields of vision. He used to see only the things right in front of him. He couldn’t reach out a hand to get things farther away, turn his head to look at something or look up. After one of the sessions with Sophie I noticed that my son was examining the ceiling and the sky as if he had seen it for the first time in his life. Now he can easily turn his head when looking for things when I ask him to. He is able to look to the right and to the left and to twist and turn his head. The most important thing is that every time Sophie comes and we have sessions with her, my son expands his vocabulary. It’s easier for him to speak and he speaks more clearly. Another interesting point is that Semyon often says new words during the sessions. Sophie, thank you so much for our victories!
Tatiana, mother of a special needs child
I learnt about Feldenkrais over a year ago and was very excited by the method. On online forums many parents left positive feedback about Feldenkrais for their children, and my husband and I decided to try it with our younger son. Yaroslav’s diagnosis is very serious, he has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and some secondary diagnoses. He couldn’t walk and communicate. Traditional medical methods left us with no hope for recovery. However, my son can do much more than doctors predicted and Sophie’s lessons substantially improved his health. Sophie is a very sensitive and attentive practitioner. She easily found the right approach to Yaroslav, even if he felt unwell on the day of a session. We know that it took a lot of skillful work and love of Sophie to help him. Not only did she improve my son’s health, but she also showed us what we should do to make each and every day of his life useful to him and lead him to improvements in the quality of his life. After those sessions and recommendations it took Yaroslav only two months to start to be able to walk along the wall around 10 meters, throughout the day. His balance has improved a lot and it keeps improving day by day. During her sessions Sophie is very attentive and does not let the child get tired and does not force him. Everything she does is done in a positive way and only if the child wants it: this is very important to us. Apart from his physical condition Sophie pays attention to Yaroslav’s behavior and the way he communicates with others by being surprisingly clear in her instructions and by directing and supporting him. I see obvious improvements in his behavior or movements at every session. The quality of his movements has changed, variety has been introduced, and movements have become more complex and natural. We enjoyed working with Sophie and we hope we can continue working together. We express our heartfelt thanks to her.
Katherine, mother of a special needs child
My son Simon was five years old when we first met Sophie for lessons five months ago (she is very friendly and cheerful). Simon’s diagnosis is cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia. To date we have had three sets of five lessons each. During these lessons my son’s perception of the environment has improved, he started to get interested in the world around him. He moves his hands much better and his eyesight and colour perception have improved. His hearing has improved as well. His legs have learnt new movements and he can now sit in different positions. We are hopeful that by having more lessons we will be able to help him reduce spasticity even more and he will walk more steadily.
Olga, mother of a special needs child
My daughter Nadia is now five and a half. It’s been 1 and a half years since we started having sessions with Sophie. We have a series of five to ten lessons, once every two to three months. During our sessions with Sophie Nadia’s muscle tonus has significantly reduced, in her legs and pelvis in particular so that she can now sit in different positions on her own. Previously she could sit only in one certain position due to high tonus. Her body has become very flexible and soft, she is now like a normal kid in this sense. Nadia can’t walk independently, and she couldn’t stand on her feet. She crawls on all fours and sits. However now she has started to be able walk on her knees in tall kneeling and to push and pull herself into a standing position, and enjoy standing near something to lean on, she didn’t like it before. She is more confident when standing on her feet, she is balanced. Also she does not gabble anymore. She used to talk nonsense and it felt like she was somewhere out there and not with us. Her movements have become clearer and she has more control and choice in how she moves, that is, Nadia can lie down where she intends to and not in a random place. She can sit where she wants to and not randomly. Many of her movements are now made very skillfully and quickly when previously they were slow and difficult. Little Nadia likes Sophie’s sessions.
Ganna, mother to a special needs child and home schooling her four children
We were given recommendations to try Feldenkrais lessons when my son was one and a half years old. His diagnosis: prematurity, birth on the 31st week (emergency caesarian section), brain hypoxia, moderate brainwater, organic lesion of central nervous system, developmental delay, tetanic contraction, epileptic activity. I am so glad we could have lessons with Sophie. She knows how to work with children, she also explains what parents can do and gives them valuable advice. After the first series of lessons (six lessons) my son’s vision became more focused and the use and control of his eyes improved, fine motor skills improved, legs lost spasticity, he became aware of himself when lying on the floor, started to speak (first words like “mama”, “yum”). After the second series of lessons (five lessons) my son started to get clear and confident orientation in space, he became lively and active, his emotions became more vivid, he started to take toys from the table with both hands and move things from one hand to another, started to perceive objects of different sizes, he started to roll from the belly to the back, actively tried and still tries to roll from his back to belly, he started to roll around his axis when lying on his back and on the belly. We have just finished the third series of lessons (six lessons). I have already noticed that he produces more new sounds, that he is now very much aware and understands speech and reacts to what is told to him, he falls about laughing. He is very active now and less sleepy and unaware. He also now knows how to slap things with his palm and has learnt how to switch on music on the musical handle-bar of the pram, he enjoys lying on his belly now too. Judging by our own experience even more of the effectiveness of the lessons emerges during the 30 to 40 days after the series so we are looking forward to seeing even more of the new things that our child does.
Maria, lawyer and mother of a special needs child
I remember our first lessons when Makariy was crying all the time… Those were the days when I almost gave up believing in my child. We didn’t really understand that Sophie was trying to communicate with him because we perceived him in a different way! Only later did I realise that Sophie had shown us and taught us how to talk to him, and that significant step was made thanks to her. She brought hope into our family and helped us believe in our lovely boy.
These days hour after hour, day by day and especially after Sophie’s lessons we see that our five year old boy can change and that he wants to. For example, we were very much surprised when Makariy came off the sofa by himself and then lifted up on his hands and stood on his knees by the sofa, and he repeated those actions several times as if checking himself, and I really saw that he was interested in moving and he was not afraid of moving more and more.
Recently Sophie helped us see more of his sucсesses and victories which we couldn’t notice because they seemed to be so small to us but so big to Makariy. And now we are aware of them!
Our big family, especially Makariy, are looking forward to seeing Sophie again. Thank you very much Sophie and see you very soon!
Natasha, banker, and Ivan, engineer, parents of a special needs child
We started working together with Sophie in March 2014. At that time Roma was four years old. We have had five series of lessons since then. In 2014 Roma’s health was really bad after serious illness in 2013. He didn’t do anything by himself: no rolling over, no crawling, no lifting of his head. During each series of sessions we observed little miracles that were obvious only for us, that is, session after session Roma got more and more motivated and he wanted to learn something new, to be with us in this world and not in his own, he became more emotional and made new sounds. Also Roma’s body was very spastic but now he is more relaxed.
Every session Sophie looks for new approaches towards working with Roma, she is persistent, consistent and patient, calm and kind at the same time. When working with Roma she intends to make him more communicative and sociable and she shows him how to move in a right way, for Roma the movements are twists, rolling over, holding of his head, new possibilities of movement for the whole body and its parts. During the lessons Roma does new things that we’ve never seen at home.
Sophie is an open, kind, and charming person, she always finds the right approach to Roma (even when he is in a bad mood). She shows on us what Roma’s body feels and also what we need to work on at home and what to aim at.
Tatiana, accountant, and mother of a special needs child
We used different rehabilitation methods before Feldenkrais method. Dima is now four years and ten months old, he has cerebral palsy. When he was three months old we started applying traditional rehabilitation methods: massage, paraffin, physical therapy, acupuncture, Vojta and Bobath therapies, PNF therapy, osteopathy, hippotherapy. We tried everything possible to find the right method. Of course all those methods had an effect in different ways. But Dima was in pain, he cried and was hysterical. We met Sophie and had our first experience with applying Feldenkrais method in October 2014, Dima was four years and two months at that time. As usual I was surfing an Internet forum about kids with special needs and looking for new information about other rehabilitation methods and came across information about Feldenkrais method. So we signed up for a series of lessons with Sophie for the first time and now we always attend them. We have had five series of five lessons each within nine months.
Before Fedenkrais lessons Dima held his head well, rolled over, crawled on all fours, stood up with support (by holding onto a support and dragging himself with his hands), walked sideways along the wall facing the wall and holding with both hands, could walk with holding of my hand (high tonus in legs, tiptoe walk with his legs staggering), walked on his knees (a little bit), could speak and understand speech, but was not communicative. But Dima has changed a lot: he had a significant breakthrough in terms of his physical development after the first and the second series of lessons, that is, he learnt how to change positions while sitting (he used to sit with his legs in the shape of a letter w), he started to move from on his hands and knees to lift one leg and press it onto the wall, standing on his hands and on one leg making a bridge shape with his body. Sophie allowed him to feel how he could push into the floor with his hands and Dima started to stand up with his hands pressed to the floor (he wasn’t dragging himself anymore) and thanks to that his shoulders squared and relaxed. He started to do a handstand when held by the legs. During the third and the fourth series of lessons the changes were more of an intellectual nature, that is, he started to pronounce the letter L, his speech sped up, he started to answer questions more quickly and he became more communicative and started to look people in the eye. He also became more dynamic and his fine motor skills improved. After the fifth series of lessons Dima could stand up on his feet with both knees on the floor with a wall supporting him and he started to be able to jump when holding my hands. He started to move his feet out from underneath him when sitting and study his toes. After our last series of lessons Dima started to walk forward along the wall independently with just one hand touching the wall and without needing me to be near him in case he fell. He walked quickly and confidently with his feet clearly contacting the floor, and without me for the first time.
Also I would like to mention that during these nine months my son has kind of come to life, he now makes a lot of quick and spontaneous movements. Even for Mum it gets more difficult to trace all the changes in his physical and emotional condition. And all this progress is possible WITHOUT PAIN AND HYSTERICS. Dima enjoys Sophie’s lessons because it’s all a game for him.
I’d like to take advantage of an opportunity to express my gratitude to Sophie for her lessons and the families who shared their knowledge and experience of Feldenkrais so that we could have the possibility to get to know the method!
Tamara, marketing specialist, and mother of a special needs child