Walking in My Son's Shoes
Our First Experiences with the Anat Baniel Method (ABM)
Our son’s involvement with the Anat Baniel Method (ABM) started just under a year ago.
Like many parents our first intensives brought about directions to limit as much as possible his exposure to your traditional therapies for a period of time (preferably a complete removal of these therapies) post lessons.
I am sure many parents have questioned the need to follow these instructions, as I did in the early periods of our ABM experience. However, like many others who continue to pursue ABM I was seeing changes that had not been present previously with other therapies. So, I sat in this turmoil of contemplation through our first few intensives, ultimately trying to do the best for our son but unsure of how much credence to give to these directions. Comparatively, feeling guilty for withholding therapies that many hold as the golden standard of treatment, are more readily accessible and financially are much more affordable and sustainable.
After we completed his first two intensive sessions our son was diagnosed with a life limiting disorder that has no cure or treatment. Two key factors in helping his condition are a strict diet and exercise. We already had the diet and nutritional aspects being looked after through our naturopath, but we always struggled with the exercise. For a baby who doesn’t move it’s impossible to get them to exercise, or essentially use their muscles. ABM was the only thing we tried that seemed to change the way our son interacted with the world and get him moving (using his muscles). After this diagnosis, my husband and I knew that ABM had to become an integral part of our son’s life. However, we were traveling out of country for his intensive sessions and the financial burden that would be required to continue this regime of trips every few months was not realistic.
Last Fall, I decided to take the ABM practitioner training. I went into the training for our son but am quickly realizing how much I am transforming my own person and life.
I have a leg that has been through years of trauma and medical interventions, leaving it with significant mobility issues. I have difficulty walking and am very unstable. As a result, I have been left wearing a brace and a pair of custom shoes, which intrinsically create my stability and gait.
During my first in person training session, I naturally wore my brace and shoes to and from class. Throughout the day though I was in my bare feet and socks for the class. I found throughout the days while doing group Transformational Movement Lesson (TML)’s and individual Functional Synthesis (FS) lessons that I could feel major changes in my gait and stability. I could feel fluency to my gait that had not been present before and I was standing with my weight more equally distributed. It was amazing to see how just in the course of a few hours I could feel such difference. I would then put my brace and shoes on to go back to my hotel at the end of the day. As soon as I took that brace off again, I was back into my old patterns. It was like the past few hours of classes had never happened and I found this very frustrating.
As I was preparing for my second in person set of training classes, I decided to buy a new pair of regular shoes. I didn’t wear these shoes prior to the start of classes, as I did not want any of my previous patterns worn into the soles. As the next session of classes began, I left my brace and custom shoes at the hotel and only wore this brand new pair of regular shoes.
Once again I saw magnificent changes throughout the days of doing TML’s and FS’s. The best thing was that I took these changes with me at the end of the day. Wearing a pair of shoes that were a blank slate allowed me the opportunity to create a new wear pattern reflective of the changes I was making. I found my overall growth during this segment and changes to my leg were exponentially different than my first in person segment.
The key was that I didn’t put on that brace and snap myself back into my old patterns at the end of every day. I carried the changes made in class out of that classroom and into my daily life. Therefore, I allowed myself the ability to integrate the changes and continue to foster new awareness of parts of myself that had been blocked for many years. Reflecting on my own experience has really helped me to understand our son and his experiences on a much deeper scale.
The changes and experiences our son is having in his intensive sessions are magnificent, but they are precious and volatile. These new connections need time to take root and manifest. Exposure to traditional therapies without adequate time in between can snap the child back into old patterns and override the new changes.
I am so thankful that I have this opportunity to better relate to our son and a newfound possibility of one day taking my own brace off for good. ABM definitely works, it may not always be a quick fix but the best things in life are worth waiting for!