Special Needs Kids and Their Families
Here are some blogs that may help parents of children with special needs.
If you are the parent of a child with learning delays or other special needs including autism, cerebral palsy (CP), Down’s syndrome, agenesis of the corpus collosum (ACC), or any other conditions that impede movement or development, I hope that these resources can be helpful.
The Anat Baniel Method for Children(sm) is a gentle and powerful method that helps children learn by using cutting edge techniques to stimulate neurological connections through the whole self. Movement is not done for them or to them except to set the context for learning. Rather, I help them do small volitional movements and build on those while teaching easy use of their skeleton in gravity.
Here is a little more information about this method:
The Anat Baniel Method for ChildrenSM helps children perceive differences as they are guided to move within a small and comfortable range in many variations that are available to them. To begin with, the brain thrives on random movement.
These movements begin to fill in the brain map in a similar way that healthy children do with random exploratory movements. Having a variety of movement options not connected at first to a goal gives the brain a message of possibility rather than limitation. The child can begin to happily explore their world within their own range of comfort. As they continue, this range can enlarge naturally and intentional movement becomes easier.
Intentional movement does not occur in any healthy child by doing things the right way, they have a rich base of information that allows them to hone in on the approximate. They “do it wrong” many times in many ways before they become proficient. Children with special needs need this rich base of information. Given this base, the brain can take off. When the pressure is off, learning happens in an optimum way. The child learns their possibilities rather than their limitations.
Parents report new learning right away with ABM
New learning includes: new movements, vocalizing, bonding, exploring, improved sleep and rest, improvements in cognition, improvements in mood. The Anat Baniel Method for ChildrenSM is derived from the work of Moshe Feldenkrais and developed by Anat Baniel and colleagues for more than 30 years. I have worked with children in Gainesville, Florida, USA since 1998.
Children who have neurological disabilities learn to:
Let go of unnecessary holding and contractions
Explore many variations of movement
Use their skeleton in more and more efficient ways to make movement possible and to move with greater ease
Staying within their range of easy volitional movement – children learn through success.
Through this safe and playful exploration, children learn – not the “right way” to move – but their own variety of ways to utilize gravity and interact with their surroundings.
Reaching to Learn
For over 30 years Anat Baniel and her colleagues have proven that children with disabilities can learn to move far beyond expected diagnostic limitations when given the information that the brain needs for learning. Before placing a child in a sitting or standing position when they don’t yet have the neurological information, we try to help them put the pieces together. We make sure that children have enough information to move in and out of each new position with minimum effort.
Given the conditions for learning, the brain can form more than a million new connections per second.
Conditions that hinder learning are:
Being expected to learn one set way
Feeling powerless or not capable of the task
Feeling unsafe due to past trauma
Learning can be optimized by first looking at what the child can currently do and helping the child build on that. By staying with the childʼs current understanding of movement and helping them to feel the success of each step, we build on those successes.
Children with learning delays may initially reach learning goals later than other children, and without the foundation of their own experience they stay behind. However, given small initial successes in learning, their development can later move exponentially to the point that they not only “catch up” but can be free to excel and develop their own talents.
ABM helps children perceive differences
I help children learn various combinations of movement such as using the levers of the skeleton efficiently. I help them compare difficult and easy vectors of movement. Given these possibilities in an atmosphere of gentle and playful exploration, their nervous system is free to learn and choose movement combinations from an informed self image rather than by conforming to an outside demand for the “right” way to move.
Parents report new learning right away with ABM.
When a child does something on their own for the first time, I am careful about not making them self conscious. The new learning is fragile and can be inhibited easily. Rather, I give the child the space to continue inventing combinations of movement so they can feel what works for themselves. Parents and teachers are asked to give children plenty of “floor time” so they can explore and build on their new learning.
Questions and Answers
Who Can Benefit?
All children can benefit from this method. Some of the diagnoses are listed here:
• Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (ACC)
• Brachial Plexus Injury
• Cerebellar Atrophy
• Cerebral Palsy (CP)
• Down’s Syndrome
• Failure to Thrive
• Fragile X Syndrome
• Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
• Partial brain loss
• Premature Birth (Preemies)
What changes are seen when children receive lessons from a practitioner trained in the Anat Baniel Method for ChildrenSM?
This method provides children with experiences that give them an opportunity to upgrade their nervous systems. Anat Baniel Method for Children practitioners seek to wake up children’s awareness of feeling what they are doing so that they can do what they want.
• Improved sleep
• Better mood
• Longer attention span
• New movement choices
• Improved balance
• Improved problem solving
• More vocal sounds