November 13, 2014

Anna's ABM Journey

One of the most difficult parts of being a special needs mom, especially a CP mom, is making decisions on services. Although I count my family extremely fortunate to have choices, there are so many types of therapy that it can be overwhelming. All I want is for Anna to have the best and most effective therapy - the therapy that will help her grow and develop to her maximum potential. Ultimately, no one knows what that is as every child and every brain is different.

Anna has received physical therapy since she was in the NICU. Once we came home, we acted immediately to continue therapy with Early Childhood Intervention Services. We had consultations with physical, occupational, and speech therapists but ultimately decided Anna only needed physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). We had in-home PT three times per month and in-home OT twice per month. Anna enjoyed "playing" with her therapists and we were happy with the services we were receiving. However, as parents (and grandparents) will do, we continued researching to see if anything else might be helpful for Anna.

Anna doing tummy time in her NICU crib
When Anna was 9 months old, we discovered the Anat Baniel Method. My mom came across Anat's book, Kid's Beyond Limits and had everyone in the family read it. As alternative therapies go, this one offers a great deal of hope. It is based in the science of neuroplasticity and the idea that the brain can change and heal itself. The book contains stories of incredible results and of course we wanted to believe Anna could be among these! Soon after we read the book, we learned that Anat would be giving a seminar a few hours drive from us so we loaded up Anna and took her on her first mini-road trip. During the seminar, Anat actually did a demonstration on Anna and showed how disorganized her brain's connection to her back was. According to Anat, Anna hadn't mapped the left side of her body in her brain after those areas were damaged by her brain bleeds.

Anat Baniel demonstrating a movement lesson with Anna
When we returned from our trip, we began seeing a local ABM practitioner, Tracy Roybal, who is about an hour's drive from our house. With the help of my parents, we began taking her to see Tracy 3 days a week every 3rd or 4th week. While we didn't see any immediate changes, we did notice that Anna seemed to initiate more movement than she did during her traditional PT and OT sessions.

Fast forward a few months - we added aquatic therapy to the mix and some additional  PT and OT so Anna was receiving 5-9 therapy sessions a week!! We had a packed schedule, but a major change was on the horizon for us. After another consult with Anat, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue traditional PT and OT and focus on ABM for the time being (though we will continue aquatic therapy). We have made this decision based on our faith in Anna and her practitioners and our belief that this will help Anna reach her maximum potential. As ABM is expensive and not covered by insurance, we have created a website for anyone who might like to support Anna on her journey: