Last weekend Charlie had his 3rd cluster of ABM (Anat Baniel Method) movement therapy at home. Cluster 2 was done at Grandma and Grandad’s house while Mummy and Daddy were at a wedding.
Within the principles of ABM, Bill guides Charlie through movements in a way that supports his body, slowly and subtly changing positions in a way that helps his brain ‘learn’ simpler ways of movement.
I see ABM as the ‘neurological key’ in Charlie’s therapy- with principles that are becoming increasingly supported with ‘hard science’- much described in Norman Doidge’s books (see Resources). I am completely on board with the ABM ethos of ‘meeting the child where they are’- as simple yet important idea of a process rather than an outcome orientated approach.
Bill used Charlie’s ideas to implement his therapy as a ‘teacher’ rather than therapist. The whole session is crafted in such a way as to have specific start and end- even packing Bill’s bench at the end, despite coming back an hour after the 1st session ends to begin the 2nd. This idea is utilised between each session, each cluster consists of a 40min session, an hour ‘break’ followed by another session. This enables Charlie’s brain to consolidate the neurological changes occurring ‘accidentally’ during the session before reinforcing them in the 2nd session- this is a very important principle in neuroplastisity, neuromodulation.
It is difficult to describe a session with any great clarity as the nature of the session is child led- it evolves and spontaneously changes. Bill has to respond instantly- sometimes a little coercion is required but Charlie needs so much less instruction or ‘telling-off’ to continue the lesson with ABM.
Charlie plays while Bill helps him into positions he might not be aware of, or even be able to manage- many times Bill has gently and slowly moved Charlie into positions the physios or myself have felt unavailable to him! Bill appears to ‘zero-in’ to areas that appear particularly high tone to support them and also those joints that appear weaker. This time Bill noticed the imbalance between Charlie’s chest and back and spent extended time supporting his ribs, moving them subtly and opening Charlie’s shoulders to allow his chest to stretch. Again, we noticed after the session Charlie appeared to have so much energy and seemed full of himself- more energy available to play as less required by decreasing muscle tone?
After a session Charlie often appears ravenously hungry and this time was no exception. Charlie was also noticeably sitting with a straighter back after this cluster- mostly due to the further reduced tone in his chamstrings.
I do still think the individual work and private physio we do with Charlie is vital, however, I do think the ABM allows Charlie’s ‘learning trajectory’ to be increased dramatically. Without the reduction in tone that the ABM appears to have helped with I don’t think the functional gains the physio has had would have been so readily achieved. It appears the ‘learning of himself’ is helping Charlie work around his brain damage; to re-route the automatic subconscious parts of movement we normally take for granted, and is allowing him to consciously learn movements in a way that may neurologically link missing connections.
Keep it up Bill- another session please! It is also nice to report that another of Charlie’s peers is seeing Bill on our recommendation and I am delighted (and relieved!) to say they have noticed similar changes.