I've taken off Zack's shirt. I wince as I note a couple of small bruises on his back. Looks like they must have hurt. Would have hurt anybody else. But Zack's sensory system doesn't work like other people's. These are new from yesterday, probably from wrestling with his brother. Yet, at no point did he let me know he was hurt. I have no idea if he felt it at all.
I grip the soft, white, plastic, sensory brush in my hand and begin gently brushing down his left arm, while he stands in front of me, watching the Little Einsteins. I start at the shoulder, pressing just hard enough for the bristles to bend, and draw the brush down toward his little hand. He holds his arm out straight for me, but loosely.
He wiggles around a little. He spreads his fingers out though, when I do the palm of his hand. I imagine the brush in my hand is actually a paintbrush, and I need to spread the paint down his arm, evenly in a straight line.
I switch to the right arm. Zack is cooperative. He likes the brushing. I focus on keeping the pressure steady, taking deep breaths myself. The act of brushing is soothing for both of us.
I imagine that all the stress, anxiety, and tension in his body is just under the skin. And by brushing, gently, slowly, deliberately, always in a down motion, I can extract the stress and anxiety. I can release the tension for him. In my mind I see the tension come flowing right out his fingertips, like five long, shiny ribbons.
I brush both Zack's legs while he stands in front of me, tenderly, but also firmly. I begin at the hip and leisurely draw the brush down over the thigh, knee, calf, ankle, and end it over his foot, bringing it just down to ends of his toes.
Zack fidgets a little. He can't help it. He is almost never still. But he's more still for this brushing activity than he is most of the day.
I cover the left leg with my imaginary paintbrush, and then begin with the right leg.
In my mind's eye I see ribbons of stress, laying all over the carpet, in a rainbow of hues. Zack is free of them.
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