The Anat Baniel Method for ChildrenSM (ABM) is a learning modality.
For more than 15 years I have worked with children who have special needs and their families, creating the conditions for learning and improvement ~ physically, mentally, and emotionally. ~ Josie Davenport
Movement is the language of the brain
The Anat Baniel Method for ChildrenSM helps children perceive differences.
Infants with special needs often have limited movement options. They are not able to do all the random movements that a healthy child can do. As it turns out, this random flailing that may appear insignificant, gives the infant brain a huge amount of information about where the body is in space and the possibilities for movement. Given the conditions for learning, the brain can form more than a million new connections per second. As special needs children are guided to move within a small and comfortable range, many variations can become available to them. These movements begin to fill in the brain map in a similar way that healthy children do with those random exploratory movements. Having a variety of movement options, not connected at first to a goal, gives the brain a message of possibility rather than limitation. The child can begin to happily explore their world within their own range of comfort. As they continue, this range of movements can enlarge naturally while at the same time intentional movement can become easier.
Intentional movement does not occur in any healthy child by doing things the right way, they have a rich base of information that allows them to hone in on the approximate. They “do it wrong” many times in many ways before they become proficient.
Children with special needs need this rich base of information. Given this base, new learning and neural connections can happen in an optimum way. The child learns their possibilities rather than their limitations.
Parents report new learning right away with the Anat Baniel Method
New learning includes:
- new movements
- improved sleep and rest
- improvements in cognition
- improvements in mood
Staying within their range of easy volitional movement – children learn through success.
Through this safe and playful exploration, children learn – not the “right way” to move – but their own variety of ways to utilize gravity and interact with their surroundings.
The Anat Baniel Method helps infants with special needs perceive differences
For over 30 years Anat Baniel and her colleagues have proven that children with disabilities can learn to move far beyond expected diagnostic limitations when given the information that the brain needs for learning. Before placing a child in a sitting or standing position when they don’t yet have the neurological information, we try to help them put the pieces together.
We make sure that children have enough information to move in and out of each new position with minimum effort.
Given the conditions for learning, the brain can form more than a million new connections per second.
Conditions that hinder learning:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Being expected to learn one set way
- Feeling powerless or not capable of the task
- Feeling unsafe due to past trauma
Learning can be optimized by first looking at what the child can currently do and helping the child build on that.
By staying with the childʼs current understanding of movement and helping them to feel the success of each step, we build on those successes.
Children with learning delays may initially reach learning goals later than other children, and without the foundation of their own experience they stay behind. However, given small initial successes in learning, their development can later move exponentially to the point that they not only “catch up” but can be free to excel and develop their own talents.
Reaching to Learn
I help children learn various combinations of movement such as using the levers of the skeleton efficiently. I help them compare difficult and easy vectors of movement.
Given these possibilities in an atmosphere of gentle and playful exploration, their nervous system is free to learn and choose movement combinations from an informed self image rather than by conforming to an outside demand for the “right” way to move.
When a child does something on their own for the first time, I am careful about not making them self conscious. The new learning is fragile and can be inhibited easily. Rather, I give the child the space to continue inventing combinations of movement so they can feel what works for themselves.
Parents and teachers are asked to give children plenty of “floor time” so they can explore and build on their new learning.