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  • Writer's pictureMike Wilson

Anat Baniel Method - part 2

Some holiday fun:

Family Christmas 2017

James jumping around with cousin Aurora:

ABM part 2: "A moving child is a learning child"

After a wonderful christmas break of visiting family and eating some amazing food, James was back in action ready for his first week of intensives (2 sessions a day for a week) beginning the second week of January.  It took some careful consideration to plan out what the two sessions would look like for James factoring in his two naps, driving time, and a quick lunch in between sessions for him but he quickly adjusted to the changes.  It is important to have James in his "sweet spot" for attentiveness to maximize his learning.

As you can see, James really enjoys working with Judy, and Judy seems to be enjoying herself as well.  She has a calming approach that really connects with him.

One of the views that we have been encouraged to avoid with James while participating with Judy in the ABM method is that you can't rely on only showing him how to learn.  You can't rely on repetition in movement, strengthening of muscles, the typical "drill and kill" kind of approach that comes so naturally for us all when you attempt at helping a developing child.  The easiest thing to do is to model "do it this way".  We should guard against the expectation that "I will show you, and you will repeat it".  He needs to figure out his own way about things.

Instead, she has been encouraging us that we simply provide the space for him to learn.  Meaning that you allow him to connect the dots on his own as much as possible.  A deeper and more integrated learning occurs when he has to figure it out on his own.  The highest form of thinking occurs even in infants - problem solving.  Essentially, a problem solving approach puts the reward within the act of learning itself instead of accomplishing the specific required task.  He can discover, explore, fail, try, observe the environment around him and make adjustments on his own.  The more we encourage this, the more James becomes independent.  Here is an example: say he rolls onto an object or toy and all of a sudden he feels uncomfortable.  Instead of removing it from underneath him, allow him to problem solve on his own.  Leave it and see what he does.  Provide the space for the learning to happen.  He can choose a number of options that are available to him.  He can stop rolling, he can roll away and try to grab it again, he can discover the importance of pivoting, he can vocalize for help etc.  All of these options are more helpful to James then simply moving the object out of the way for him before he even reacts.  He can develop his sense of discovery while flooding his brain with a variety of new information.

James has countless opportunities while playing on a mat to try and problem solve around the spasticity.  This isn't an easy task for him though.  It involves reworking around the default setting of spasticity and stiffness.

As we encourage flexibility, creativity, and a good dose of silliness at times the options become more open to him.  At this stage our task as parents is to protect his sense of self discovery, his exploration, his curiosity.  We can create situations when playing where he has to do something such as reach out, to move in a different way etc.

The fine balance we have to tread is to keep the play away from the realm of "too difficult".  You can put a 6th grader in a university class and all they will learn is that education is boring, too hard and they leave feeling defeated.  But the nice thing is, James will always tell me when things are too hard.  His body will tell me and his voice will tell me :)  James did so well last week at his intensive sessions.

Practicing bracing, balance, and weight shifting on a couch:

Exploring feeling the ground with his feet:

James taking some of his first attempts moving forward:

Acceptance and Expecting the Miraculous:

A persistent internal balancing act that Ali and I face is to live the day to day amidst the two forces of acceptance of what is, and to allow yourself to expect miracles to happen.  Both are needed, and valuable. They are both a gift from God.

Acceptance allows for reality to be faced.  It can give you a sense of grounding and a sound mind to guide your day to day decisions.  Knowing the limitations and boundaries of what is possible helps you to plan accordingly.

For us, expecting miracles to happen means that we are trusting God with the future.  We only live one day at a time, and what is time to God?   We put faith in James and his ability to problem solve around the spasticity; we put faith in the ABM therapy and other therapies to bring him further in his development; we put faith in our time, effort and focus with James as having a positive impact.  These are all rational things to put our faith in. To expect the miraculous is another story altogether though.  We live with a hope that God is present and is listening.

We don't always seem to balance these two forces effectively, but they are always at play in some form or another.

At Home:

The next two weeks we'll be applying what we've learned from the intensive sessions at home and then we will be back again in February for another intensive week with Judy.

Blast offs around the house:

Rolling away:

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