How the Octaband® Came to Be Created
I am thrilled to share the Octaband® so that you, too, can discover the enthusiasm generated when using the Octaband®.
My goal as a dance/movement therapist and educator for over 35 years with people of all ages and abilities has been to increase the person’s sense of relatedness to him or her self, others, and their environment. I have been particularly fascinated by experimenting with ways of moving which stimulate and then focus energy. The child in me loves to play with the elements of rhythm, dance, music, and color, and the artist / dancer in me loves to shape those elements.
It was while leading dance / movement therapy groups with older adults with dementia that I noticed the effectiveness of the image of group leader as hub of a wheel and the interactions between the leader and group members as spokes of that wheel. I wondered if group members would be able to interact with each other more directly with less intervention on my part if I created a prop to manifest that image. Thus was born the Octaband®.
Originally developed as a dance/movement therapy prop, it is being used with great success by music and expressive therapists, recreation therapists, activity directors, occupational, physical and speech therapists, special ed and music teachers, social workers and team builders. It has been especially effective with children with physical disabilities, autism, Aspergers, ADHD, and special needs, with older adults and people with dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, and both children and adults with developmental disabilities.
The Origin of the Octaband®
I was working in a nursing home with people with considerable cognitive deficits and physical disabilities who were behaviorally challenging for staff. There was one woman whom I will call Ann. Ann would often stick her tongue out at me playfully. When I playfully mirrored her movement, she would begin to shout, and it was difficult to calm her down. Ann also used to gesture with her thumb and forefinger as though pointing a gun at me, smiling all the while. Again, when I mirrored her movement, she would start to shout. This was in sharp contrast to her total acceptance when I mirrored her other movements.
I wondered what Ann might be expressing through these particular movements. Sticking out her tongue and pointing a gun seemed typical of a young child practicing defiance, possibly expressing her need to assert her autonomy and independence. As I thought about other movements we could do to address this need in the context of the group, I thought about pulling movements. I tried giving Ann one end of a boa, while I took the other end and we both pulled. Ann delighted in this activity. However, I lost the attention of others in the group, who could not participate without the support of a leader. That was when the image of the wheel surfaced again. Also, I realized the prop I created would need to be washable and provide people with a way to hold on, so that those without the physical or cognitive ability could still experience their connection to the group. The result was the Octaband®, which Ann thoroughly enjoyed, as did the rest of the group.