We have been to a lot of appointments in Colten’s short life. Most of them revolve around doctors reminding us what is wrong, what he cannot do, or the future hardships he may endure. We get a lot of paperwork that talks about disabilities, insurance, assistance, programs and more.
Today’s appointment was different. We had our first appointment with Bethany Snow, an ABM (Anat Baniel Method) Practitioner. We had heard about this therapy about a year and a half ago or maybe even longer, from Richard’s cousin Cheryl. She and her son were being treated as part of Bethany’s training certification process. She needed hours, they were intrigued by the therapy, it all worked out. Sure, she asked about his spina bifida, but she focused on what we knew we had working. She wanted to focus on that and use it to his advantage.
In Colten’s case, the idea is to help him become aware that he has feet and calves and to gradually figure out how to use them. In a traditional PT setting, Colten would be encouraged to keep up with the timeline for typically developing children. Often, devices and other assistance is used to kind of push kids to keep up and do what other kids that same age are doing. However, children born with myelomeningocele are not typically developing – just as many young children in therapy are not typically developing. ABM uses each child as their own measuring stick. It takes into account that there is a typical flow of movement and learning in children, from rolling to sitting to rocking to crawling to pulling up to cruising to walking. Traditional PT works to move kids along at regular intervals. ABM works to move kids along at their own pace in their own time. Instead of giving them outside sources to force the body into a position or movement, it focuses on working on the body to send signals to the brain to let the brain know – hey, I can do this. It works on making connections that for whatever reason (birth defect, neurological disorder, etc…), are not currently being made.
The ABM website has an explanation and a link to one of the chapters in Anat Baniel’s book that help explain a little about how this differs in mindset from traditional physical therapy. You can read that HERE if you’re so inclined.
I found this article about the interference of AFO’s (ankle foot orthotics) with the brain’s ability to improve and learn very interesting.
So we are moving forward. We are going to start with once every other week and see how it works. At only 2.5 months of age, there isn’t much he is suppose to be doing yet that he isn’t already, so it’s not as if we need to hurry up and get going. But the faster we can make solid brain/body connections, the better off he will be when it becomes time to really need those connections to exist. We know a few other families using this therapy with their myelo children and they are seeing incredible results. They have gone so far as to discontinue their regular PT. They have multiple appointments each week. One of the boys, not expected to walk without assistance, is walking completely on his own. We are paying cash for these appointments as they are not covered by Colten’s insurance, which is why we’re opting for the once every other week frequency to start. And we have a huge THANK YOU in advance to the MANY of you that have generously donated to Colten’s needs – because of you we can do this for him! And yes, you do have thank you notes coming – we are terribly slow on getting them all done.
On that note, we hope all of you have a great holiday season with your families! We are especially aware of the giving spirit this year as we have been the recipients of so many people’s generosity. It’s been an awkward position to be in and we humbly thank all of those that have reached out. We cannot wait to be in a position to pay it forward one day! We are grateful to be able to enjoy this holiday season with our family and friends around us. Thank you for being part of our adventure!