Saturday, September 18, 2010

ABM: a renewed hope

ABM is a new therapy we heard about from a lady at the Foundation for Blind Children (actually the mom of the little girl I wrote about yesterday). It stands for Anat Baniel Method (that is a picture of Anat Baniel to the left). I'm gonna post a bunch of videos, and I'm just warning you 1. they're long, and 2. you might need tissue (for happy tears of joy).

ABM is not just for special needs children, anybody can experience results through this kind of movement therapy. However, for our purposes we will focus on using it to help children...especially children with CP. ABM is based on the idea that simple pressure on the spine stimulates the nervous system allowing the brain to create new neural pathways. By increasing the child's awareness of his/her body, the idea is that the child becomes more mobile. It can also improve vision (if it's brain-related like Sadie's) and speech. Results from this approach to movement in children with delays/disabilities is dramatic and almost immediate.

ABM is learning-based, not medical-based, and because of what we know about the brain's plasticity and ability to recover and heal, the earlier one can start ABM, the better chance for full recovery of ability and normal development. This means that if we start Sadie now, she could very possibly be walking ON TIME. The reason I can say this with some confidence is that I've watched SO MANY of these videos and they are amazing.

But before you watch the videos, I want to share with you what Anat Baniel calls the 9 essentials that the brain requires in order to grow and develop new patterns and possibilities.

1. Movement with Attention: without movement we cannot feel alive, and movement with attention allows the brain to create new patterns so that a child can learn. Paying attention to your movements is powerful, even for adults. Think about if you've ever done yoga or Tai Chi, you are moving your body slowly and deliberately and it not only benfits you physically, but it's good for your brain.

2. Learning Switch: You want your learning switch to be on so that everything that you experience can be a learning experience for your brain to use and to help it grow. Turning on your learning switch allows you to become a real-life problem solver. In order to turn on this learning switch, it's important to step into each situation consciously expecting to learn something new.

3. Subtlety: Our job as we go through life is to become more and more refined and to be able to be more subtle with our movement and our skills. Creating more subtle pathways and connections in the brain allows us to be more complex with our skills. We want to help our brains grow subtlely and not with force so that we can get the most bang for our buck, so to speak.

4. Variation: Changing things just a little or finding new ways to do something causes the brain to flourish and spring to life. Make intentional mistakes when practicing, then go back and redo whatever it is correctly and you may find that your brain has really expanded and improved.

5. Slow: Slowing down helps us to feel and sense more of what's going on around us. This makes our lives richer. Doing everything on "auto-pilot" can cause us to forget that life is to be enjoyed, but slowing down and tuning into all our senses enriches our lives and allows us to really feel alive.

6. Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is a skill, something you can learn to do intentionally, instead of it just being a reaction to an outside stimulus. Anything you bring enthusiasm to will grow and expand and improve. When you are enthusiastic about something someone has done, you may find that they will do it more. When you are internally enthusiastic you effect the environment around you, creating more energy and a more positive environment to be in. Make the small into great by being enthusiastic.

7. Flexible Goals: When you are flexible about your goals, you are able to be flexible about the opportunities you have to reach those goals. Being rigid about your goal and how to reach it actually lessens your chances of ever achieving it. The moment we make a new goal, we don't know how we're going to get there or if we ever will, we aren't even sure what it will look like when/if we do reach our goal. Heading roughly toward something at first, then narrowing your focus toward your goal the closer you get to it will help you be more successful.

8. Imagination and Dreams: Imagination is just as good as the real thing. Using your brain to imagine yourself doing something actually creates new patterns rather than just doing the same thing over and over and traveling along the same lines that were already there. Dreams are big ideas we form from within about our future or the future of our children. Dreams give us a direction for our lives.

9. Awareness: For humans to grow and thrive it's important for us to be aware and to continually be challenging ourselves to do things at higher and higher levels. Becoming more and more aware of ourselves and our environment is something we can develop regardless of our age or stature. Without awareness there can be no knowledge. Becoming aware makes one accurate, deliberate, and wise about other people and about oneself.

Now, check these out

Anat Baniel's video showing several children with CP (it's in 2 parts)
Part 1
Part 2

Isaac, who had meningitis as a baby and it caused hydrocephalus (water in the brain)
Isaac's video

Here's a 6 month old with some paralysis of the left side of her body
Hannah's video

This is Michelle, she is here in Phoenix (so cool that she has amazing videos on here!)
Anthony's video

Rolling over with Liam
Liam's video

This one might make you cry, I've watched it 3 times and cried everytime!
Cole's video

This is Aliyah, the little girl I told you about yesterday who fell in love with Brian
Aliyah's video

If you actually took the time and watched ALL these videos, you might also be convinced. Needless to say, I'm calling Monday.

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