Monday, June 28, 2010

A little bit about ABM so far...

As some of you may remember, in the first week of May we took Avery up to Sterling, Va, to try out a new therapy. Months and months ago, someone who had come across my blog emailed me and offered to send me Anat's book Move into Life in exchange for a review of it on my blog. Pretty much everything I read in the book made sense to me, but I wasn't sure how exactly to use it, since the book itself is aimed towards adults, and all the exercises in it instructed you to think about how things feel, and I just wasn't sure how to actually apply that to Avery. However, along with the book, I had also received some DVDs with clips of Anat's work with children, including children with cerebral palsy similar to Avery's. Seeing these really got me excited about trying this method. I looked up the nearest ABM practitioners on the Anat Baniel website and found Carla, who has been working with children for 40 years and has been an AMB for Children Practitioner since 2003. And even though that's 3.5 hours from us, we have some family who live only 30 minutes away from her location, so it was perfect!
I do not have the pictures and videos from Avery's first few sessions, since I left them on my brother-in-law's computer, but when I get them I will post them. One of the things I found most exciting about watching Avery during those first 3 sessions was the level of focus on her face, and how you could see how much she was paying attention to what was going on, and how it felt. Also, she looked so happy the whole time too! She really seemed to love 'playing' with Carla, and felt comfortable and relaxed with her very quickly.
Last week Avery and Gabe went up there for 2 days of therapy. On Monday she saw Carla at 9 am and 4pm, and then again on Tuesday at 9am and 12pm. Gabe got several videos of Carla explaining what was going on, and the theories behind what she was doing. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to hear what she's saying in some of the videos because there was a fan going, and because Gabe's phone isn't always the most reliable video camera.

You can sort of see that a lot of what the therapist seems to be doing is feeling what's happening when Avery's body moves.

Here you can see how much Avery enjoys the therapy.

Here she talks a little bit about how ABM isn't about making your body do things it's not ready to do, but rather helping your brain figure out why moving certain ways is good. She didn't like some of the stretches we've been doing with Avery, particularly the 'whale' stretch, apparently, because it was making her body do things with knowing why exactly. And it's not about verbally explaining to her that the stretch could help her muscles work better, but it's about helping her body understand that if she moves in this particular way, it's a great thing because it helps her do this. I hope that makes sense.... When I went to those first 3 sessions with Avery, Carla talked a bit about how healthy babies learn to lift up their heads, roll, sit up, crawl, cruise, walk, etc, through spontaneous learning, not through forcing their bodies to do things. They experiment, they discover their hands and their feet, and they learn bit by bit how to move and react to gravity, etc. She talked about how movement and learning should be a joy and not a struggle.

Interesting to listen to if you have the time.

Standing up.

There is a lot more I could, and will at some point, say about the therapy itself, but for now I'm just going to talk about some of the changes we have seen.
After the first sessions at the beginning of May, the main changes were just little things like noticing that for a week or so afterwards, Avery was paying much more attention to her feet. She touched her lower legs and feet a lot more than she normally did.
The changes in this past week since she got home have been more noticeable. Since she got home on Tuesday night, these are some of the things I've seen:
  • On two different days, I left Avery on the toilet upstairs, while I went downstairs to take something to the kitchen or something, and when I came back to the bottom of the stairs I found Avery grinning down on me from the top of the stairs, proud of herself because she had got off the potty all by herself!
  • On Saturday I took Brogan out of the bath and got him dried and dressed while Avery was still playing in the bath. As I walked past the bathroom I told Avery I was just going to go check on dinner and then I'd come back to help her finish up in the bath. A minute or so later I heard Avery calling and saying that she was ready to get out of the bath, so I told her I'd be there in just a minute, but when I got to the bottom of the stairs, Avery was crawling out of the bathroom and excitedly calling, "Mommy! I got out of the bath all by myself!" Avery has never even attempted to climb out of the bath by herself! Earlier in the week I had helped her climb into the bath a couple of times, and had been surprised by how little help she had needed, but when I had offered to help her climb out she had refused, saying it was too hard and that I needed to pick her up.
  • After I put Brogan in bed on Thursday, I knocked on Avery's door and told her it was time to go brush her teeth and use the potty. Avery opened her door, standing up, and I offered her my hand to help her walk to the bathroom. She refused and said "No, I want to walk by myself" and she put both hands on the wall and side-stepped across the hallway until she reached the corner, and then she asked for my hand, because the corner was "a bit tricky".
  • On Wednesday morning the children and I were playing out in the carport. Brogan was in his little car, and Avery was riding her tricycle. Then Brogan decided that he wanted to play in the van, so I opened the door for him and helped him climb in. Of course, Avery then wanted to play in the van too, so I went over and took her off the tricycle, and held one of her hands to help her walk to the van. She was in a hurry, so, still holding only one hand, she practically ran all the way across the carport before she started to lose her balance a bit and steadied herself by using her other hand to grab hold of my arm.
I think that in general, Avery is feeling quite a bit more comfortable in her body, if you know what I mean. I think that she is starting to feel more confident about what she can do, and that she is experimenting.
I am still excited about ABM, and we will definitely be going back again at some point. We just have some scheduling issues to deal with now, since we're getting a bit closer to baby time.


Marie G said...

This is amazing and exciting! I'm not sure I would appreciate someone prodding and poking and stretching me this way but if it works and Avery seems to enjoy it, it looks good to me.

MIchelle said...

This is really wonderful progress. I had not heard of this therapy method before, but it seems like it really makes sense. Awesome news!

Anonymous said...

Looks fantastic!

Lisa said...

Wow! She has made great progress!

Tony F said...

Wonderful progress.

Eveymartine said...

Really exciting! She seems so relaxed and happy during the session - even her flapping is more relaxed it seems.
It's especially exciting that she seems to be taking control of what she can and can't do.
Good luck!

David said...

the blog changed while i was away. looks great!

Hans A said...

I think it’s great what you are learning and applying to help Avery. Thank you for the pictures and the update. Give your children a hug for me. We spent a couple of days camping behind Squaw Peak in a tent trailer Melodee bought. It was great. Last week I spent 8 days camping with the boy scouts up in Wyoming with Garrett. He turned 12 a couple of weeks ago. That was a good experience and included a couple of hours a day for 2 days canoeing together up to a wilderness camp site. I would send you pictures from my camera, but I can’t make it work yet, with all my electronic whiz kid talent. Love Grandpa, daddy , etc.