Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

Where to begin...

The road we are on in this journey of Rojo's is such a bumpy one.  We seem to always be encountering a fork in the road after a straight path, filled with potholes. Road construction ahead. Detour here.   But deterring from a familiar path is healing and can lead to new adventures, ideas, and challenges.

It is nice to have a routine.  Our week (that is Roa's week) is filled with activities- OT, PT,  Speech, Conductive Education, Aquatics, School, Courage Riders.... We keep him busy.  We keep him working. We pray for changes, goals reached, milestones met.  But after this last five days of time, with Pati, experiencing our first Anat Baniel Method program, we are questioning our fast pace.

I want to be a skeptic of the ABM approach.  I have read, googled, chatted with families, searching for a critic.  Someone out there tell me it is bogus!  But, I can not find that critic.  I find parents who complain of the cost.... I hear ya, Sista!  I find parents who have had sessions with Anat herself who claim that she is not a very nice person.  I find people who say it is hard to find practioners near their hometown.  I find some who tell of how difficult it is to give up hope in the traditional therapy methods and those therapist that have become such a part of your team/family and focus completely on ABM.
But, not a critic.  No negatives about the therapy.
I read Anat's book.  I've watched her DVDs and Youtube clips.
 It just makes sense.

I wish I would have had the time and energy to blog each day after Roa's sessions with Pati.  However, it was exhausting, for all of us.  Thank goodness I had the help of my sister, Vickie, and Bryan's Dad, Al to help manage both boys while Roa was in sessions-  30 minutes in a car.  30-50 minutes in session.  30 minutes in a car.  Repeated twice a day.

Since I didn't get a chance to blog each day.  I will have to summarize for you about our learning through these intense days.
1)  Credit.  We realized we do not give Roa enough credit for the smart boy that he is.  We need to allow him to physically help with tasks such as getting in and out of his carseat or wheelchair or getting dressed, even in tiny ways. lift your arm, sit forward, look down.   He can be a willing active participant in these daily tasks if we only ask him to be.  Talk him through the task.
2) Slow.   We need to ask of him.... and wait.  Give him a chance to process the movement, sound to make, or next step before we jump to help him, speak for him, or move him ourselves.  S L O W  way his movements when we do move him ourselves.  SLOW our life down to benefit him.
3) Break the Routine.  We do a nice of job of varying activities we do within our therapeutic routine.  But in order to stimulate new brain connections and patterns of motor control, we need to break from the routine and bring about some unexpected feedback to his body and thus his brain.
4) Support.  Part of Roa's developmental delay is his big need to feel secure in space. His body awareness is poor so exploring movement is scary.
 While on his back, trying to sit, attempting to roll, etc, he will  startle and feels insecure about what is happening to his body.  We need to give him additonal little supports- a pillow under his top leg or arm in side-lying, a blanket around his waist when sitting up, or under his knees.  Until he feels more secure in space... then we can slowly remove the support.  Along with that, when he is reaching to grasp, we need to give him a firm hand hold in his upper arm or shoulder.  Wow, can he manipulate when supported in this way!

The ABM method is so quiet, and gentle.  I watched Pati work, manipulating Roa's spine, pelvis, hips in awe.  I was a quiet observer.. but inside I was shouting TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE DOING SO I CAN DO IT TOO! 
I watched and learned a little.  I hunger for more!  Why, you ask?  What is it about this method?
Well for one,  Roa had such mixed emotions.  He smiled, he cried, he tantrumed, he laughed, he looked scared, he looked incredibly peaceful.  Overall, he was engaged!  With all the therapies we do, I sometimes see that zoned out, who's-gonna-"play with me"-now look.  Not with ABM.  He was IN it.
Secondly, Roa is now a bit calmer. He seems more comfortible on the floor.  I have walked out of a room leaving him on his back and return to find him on his tummy.  I  also notice him sitting with better, stronger posture.  We don't always put his wheelchair's chest vest on... he just doesn't seem to need it all the time.  And, Roa attempted to pull to stand!  He was pulling on his brother (not such a sturdy surface) but it was an attempt!
Tiny earthquakes.... they mean everything to us!

And so, we are discussing Roa's current schedule.  We are looking at the possiblity of slowing down for the summer.  Giving his body a chance to explore and giving this ABM deal a chance to move him forward on this summer path of potholes, speedbumps and construction.


  1. well said, Jennifer. Sounds great, and the parallels are everywhere with CE. If something makes that much sense and that much difference, then; well, it does. As for me, I know nothing about ABM. I'm "methoded-out," and we're challenged enough with our conductor FINALLY living here full-time; after waiting 9 years! And reasonable as her rates are, it's still not cheap. I hear you, there. Good job you guys! You're an inspiration.

  2. Nicely put, Jennifer. We have been (are on) the same path as you and have tried all of the above with a few more. We did ABM in Chicago with a very experienced practitioner for several rounds of 2 times a day, 5 days a week. What little I actually learned did make sense, but in the end I was disappointed in how little progress was made. We all want to find that one thing that makes a significant difference in the life of our child. And we want it to be easy. But the fact is that if we wanted our child to learn an instrument or a sport, we would not expect much progress without regular, active involvement. Walking, standing and eating are my child's sport and we need to work on things regularly and intentionally to make progress. But I agree that we do not need to work at a breakneck pace, exhausting both our child and his parents! Best wishes! Kellie


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