ABM again

Bill returned this weekend after a couple of months- he felt Charlie needed to experience the Bobath principle undiluted, so not as to confuse his learning.
With the gains Charlie has made with the principles we have learned it has been hard to separate them individually. Most of his therapy now has a ‘neuro’ bias to it and ABM is central to that.

For those that haven’t, I would highly recommend reading Anat Baniel’s book Kid’s Beyond Limits. Even as a therapist myself it has discreetly altered my view of how to approach manipulation in Charlie but also communication with other children I see.  One of the biggest changes I have adopted for Charlie is with Anat’s feelings toward static stretching- the idea of ‘no pain, no gain’ is something as a sportsman I had grown up with, always pushing that little bit more and I had brought much of that over into Charlie’s therapy. Anat details a wider view of stretching to uncomfort- how the pain response actually closes down the parasympathetic nervous system (required for learning) and encourages the ‘fight or flight mechanism’ of the sympathetic nervous system. This stretching may have a tiny effect on muscle length but it immediately shuts down any learning effect and worse, conditions Charlie to link therapy with pain! Not only does the therapy become conditioned to pain but to the therapist ‘inflicting’ it- I can tell you from unfortunate experience that a 3-year-old telling you they don’t love you through teary eyes is heartbreaking! Other literature also supports the notion that passive stretching requires performing HOURS of action to provide only small gain. I have consciously replaced stretching with ‘movements’ that Charlie tolerates much more and actually asks for, this enables much longer therapy sessions and much happier ones at that!  Bobath also supports the idea that passively stretching Charlie is of limited benefit and using more dynamic positions where his body happens to be stretched are much more helpful to his tone. 

Bill described to me the experience one of this peers had on his training with Anat- he told me how a lady had trained in paeds physio had seen some Bobath and it had revolutionised what she did- so she trained in Bobath. When she meet Anat and was exposed to ABM she had gone home to her husband and said ‘I thought I’d finished retraining but ABM is what I need to be doing!’. I feel the same and I wish finances allowed me to train as an ABM practitioner, much as I try to utilise it as much as possible i would love to train properly.

Although Lou and myself were away this weekend, Grandma and Grandad ably stepped in to facilitate Bill and his lession- fortunately we arrived home as BIll was finishing his final bit and we were able to chat. It was nice to hear from Bill how he felt Charlie was doing- he described Charlie as ‘longer’, ‘more lithe’ and certainly ‘stronger’, all words to describe the massive reduction in Charlie’s tone that we have seen.

Bill seemed pleased with Charlie’s progression and using his words ‘the trajectory’ that he is on with his learning, bodily and otherwise.
I am constantly inspired by Bill’s actions and the way that Charlie is able to commit to the sessions (despite never stopping talking..). I hope that what we have seen is something that we will continue to see in the future.
With Bill’s help we have encouraged Charlie to enthusiastically activate his ‘learning brain’; using his own attention to subtly become aware of his body and slowly use variations of movement to conquer his muscles want/need to contract!

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