Over the past 2 years, I’ve referenced ABM lessons a number of times without going into detail about what this is and how we came across it. So, finally, after much success with ABM, I sat down and wrote this post about how we began with the Anat Baniel Method.
Have you ever sat and watched an infant’s body learn? It seems as every part of them moves at all hours of the day, twisting and turning, exploring, learning where their body is in space. These movements are repeated thousands of times, helping to build the muscles necessary for sitting up, crawling, walking, jumping, all gross and fine motor skills that are typically developed. When the brain is damaged in infancy, the body skips out on many of these movements, causing developmental delays like what we’ve seen with Solly.
When Solly was an infant, I think I always knew he wasn’t moving as much as a typical baby, but it never struck me how few of those subtle, brain-building movements he was making until Bea came along.
In the Fall of 2016, I was poking around the Internet, looking for new therapy ideas and resources because Solly was stuck in a rut. One year prior, I’d been so excited to move to Nashville and gain access to a new team of doctors and therapists to help Solly continue to thrive, but over the year, I felt like our gains grew smaller and smaller. Solly was hitting a plateau. I was growing concerned that this was it – there were no more gains to be made. (A crazy thought considering Solly was just two years old!)
In one – or perhaps several, I can’t exactly remember – of my parent support groups on Facebook, I began to see parents mentioning different types of alternative therapies and the term “ABM” kept popping up, and all comments about it were positive. I had to learn more.
ABM stands for the Anat Baniel Method, and it’s not physical therapy, but, in short, a lesson that gives the brain information on where the body where it is in space, which allows it to learn how to move. It’s a much more natural and gentle approach than many of the physical therapies we had tried at that point, and I was anxious for Sol to try it. I scoured the Internet in hopes of finding a local practitioner, and came across the Nashville Neuro-Wellness Center, which consists of two ABM practitioners who travel to Nashville every 6 – 8 weeks to provide lessons.
I got on the phone with Mary Kliwinski, who travels from Pennsylvania, and she filled me in on how they use slow variations in movement, working without goals and starting with where the child is – not where they want them to be (very different from traditional PT), to teach the brain how to move. We set Solly up to join their next intensive the following month – and we haven’t looked back since.
Every other month, we see Mary or Jan Sevde for 6 movement lessons scheduled across 3 days. While there hasn’t been a huge “a ha!” for us with ABM as some other clients have experienced, these lessons have given Solly more awareness of where his body is in space, helping him learn to move and find balance. It’s also aided our other efforts with speech and vision. Since we started in late 2016, we’ve seen Solly make so many gains in all of his therapies. We see so much value in combining these lessons with our more traditional therapies and other alternative therapies, plus Jan and Mary are really in tune with what’s working for children in the CP community and readily pass along information to us at each intensive. (In fact, it was through our ABM intensives that we learned about SPML, which was a game changer in stabilizing Solly’s hips and helping him learn to walk in his gait trainer.) If you are a parent of a child with CP, I’d highly recommend looking into ABM as a tool to help your child. We’re so glad we did!
There is so much more to ABM than I have described here. To get the full experience, definitely check out:
- Kids Beyond Limits (Anat’s book)
- Anat Baniel Method
- Ann Arbor Body and Mind (Jan’s website)
- Discovery with Movement (Mary’s website)