Something that stuck with me after play therapy with autistic preschoolers was the idea of "body." The language used was always very careful to distinguish a person from his body -- for symbolic purposes as well as literal, practical ones. "Mitchell, tell Alice you don't want her touching your body." "Peyton, how is your body feeling?" ("Crazy!!!") We were attuned to the needs of each individual's body -- for instance, if the child('s body) felt threatened by hallways and other open spaces (Alice) or needed vestibular input, ie, squeezes, firm hugs, or bouncing (Graciela) in order to be regulated. It brought a reality to the phrase "uncomfortable in one's own skin" that I could have never considered without experience with little ones with autism! The communication associated with these principles astounded me for a very long time. To think that a mysterious sensation in one's body needed closer boundaries or even pressure in order not to go completely haywire was so strangely validating to the human condition! Unfortunately, in these examples, the body was communicating its needs because frequently they weren't met -- how can we know unless through frustrating experience that Zahara would only calm down in a pogo swing?
In loving a flagrantly opposing means for body language, I decided to get hooked on So You Think You Can Dance this year. I consider myself a dancer -- a very niche dancer, but a dancer all the same -- and more importantly, I love dance as an idea and I love even more to watch people dance. And I did get really into American Idol last year and found out I cry at the drop of a hat on these shows (seriously; I cry when people do really well, when they win their ticket or whatever, when they cry, when their family hugs them, when they win but don't have any family or friends there to hug them, when they win but don't have any family or friends there to hug them but then they call out to the lounge outside auditions "Quick! Someone come be my family!" and a herd of strangers run to hug them and jump and celebrate, etc). Put all that together and I knew I would have the best time watching this show. And I have.
My favorite part of these two shows, even more than the dances or songs, is when people are told they're moving on to whatever next round -- and they celebrate. Somehow. Many cry, many laugh, many are in disbelief, many have that face where they look like they're hardly reacting at all but really they're taking it the most humbly and joyously. I