Saturday, May 23, 2015

NeuroMovement for Children with Special Needs Workshop 2015

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Last weekend I attended Anat Baniel's NeuroMovement for Children with Special Needs Workshop 2015.  I had gone to a similar workshop two years ago when she last came to our area.  This year I went with Noah's Feldenkrais therapist, who has been in his life since he was 14 months old.   After we struggled through a year of traditional therapies with no progress which caused him even more distress than he was already in, I began my quest for therapeutic modalities that would benefit Noah without causing him discomfort, stress and additional anxiety.   It didn't take long before I seen a shift in Noah's response - emotionally and physically to different methods of therapy.  I quickly realized that I had a child that needed to learn differently in order to build bridges in his brain.   Noah learned to roll one month later, growing proficient in rolling each year thereafter and at age six now can roll to any room in the house and has learned to close doors behind him using either his feet or his hands.   And trust me he finds his privacy important and gets very upset if you open a door once he's worked hard on shutting it on you.  

I always think it is beneficial if a parent can actually experience and gain a good understanding of what their child is experiencing with a therapy method.  To feel it for yourself is very important.  Does it hurt?  Does your body feel different?  Does this cause stress?  Do you feel better? Worse?  We put our children through so much in the hopes of being able to offer them the best quality of life.  But what does that feel like for them.  And at what cost to them and their level of happiness?

I'm a parent that couldn't handle Noah's screams and cries during therapy.  Some parents are okay with that.   I never was.  Many therapists tried to convince me that forcing Noah to do things that caused him distress was mandatory for progress to be made.  Forcing him into doing something he couldn't do, didn't want to do.  Therapists even withholding him from me so I couldn't console him or offer him the comfort of my loving arms.  I feel like I spent the first year of his life torturing him because I didn't know better.  I didn't know there was this whole other world out there of different therapies.   The majority of Noah's therapies are what are deemed "alternative therapies."  Of course they are not recognized by insurance and are all out of pocket costs.  For the last six years we've done our very best to pay for eight different therapies out of pocket.  Because they were what were most benefiting Noah - and they continue to do so.  They each all have an important role in his life - and they are making him happy while giving him the building blocks to physical progress. 

ABM has played a significant role in teaching me as a special needs parent on how to perceive things differently.  Lessons I needed to hear.  Things I needed to learn to grow and navigate this journey.  Even though I attended two years ago, I still learned new things, heard new messages, and Anat has a fabulous way about reminding you about what the goal is:  You cannot fix any of it.  But you can offer them a method of learning a different way of getting around physical limitations.  She has a gift of renewing hope in your heart, and understanding that progress comes in all different forms.  

Just like the last workshop, she did some demonstrations with children with special needs.  While I was disappointed at the last workshop as the child didn't have a lot of physical challenges and would go on to meet all milestones with a little time - this year both children had some significant difficulties ahead of them.   Both girls much younger than Noah.   The first set of parents were unable to console their daughter who was distraught and having a really rough afternoon.   I was them five years ago with a little boy I couldn't console.  He cried endless hours out of each day.  I was beside myself.  I don't even know how I made it through the first year of Noah's life.   Looking back on myself in the earlier days makes me just want to go back and give myself the biggest hug for what I went through.  And I did it with so much love and devotion - and cried a lot of tears because I was scared and didn't know how to help him - and in my mind how to "fix it."

These parents were never able to calm their little girl and Anat was unable to work on her.  I seen the disappointment on their faces and could feel their sadness.  Having Anat touch your child is a true gift, I have always hoped Noah would have a chance someday to work with her.  So I know their disappointment was significant.  They gathered their things and left.  I pray they don't abandon ABM as a type of therapy to try.  And more importantly I hope no matter where they are they know it wasn't their fault their daughter was upset and that they're doing a great job.  We place such heavy guilt upon ourselves when we feel we can't "fix" our children. 

I think that's the message I love the most that Anat delivers.  We can't fix anyone.  I can't fix my neighbor, I can't fix a mother, brother, father, or husband, I can't fix my children.  We can't change anyone.   We can offer them the tools to utilize change, but forcing someone to do something - will never happen.  I can't force Noah to walk.  I can't force him to talk.  I can show him patterns that might lead to those steps.  But I can't make him do it.  No matter how much I wish for it for him.  He is his own soul signature in this world.  A leader of his own life and own destiny.   And it's important to me that I don't break Noah's spirit while I'm on this quest to assist him with recovery and his physical abilities. 

I want therapy to feel good to him, to offer his body comfort and give his brain feedback that there are other ways he could try that might help him get around something that is prohibiting him from moving in a certain way or reaching the goals he wants to reach.   Once I quit pushing Noah into therapies that he hated, the progress started happening.  And it might not look like a lot - because society measures perfection in milestones:  He isn't walking, talking, crawling or sitting independently - so to them progress isn't happening. 

These types of workshops are really great for parents - especially those seeking to find a different way of looking at the special needs journey.   There is so much healing that we need to go through too.  It's not just our children.  And I always want to be open to learning, expanding the way I think, and listening and being open to ideas.  It's a continual growth process for all of us.   It helps me be the best parent I can be to Noah.   There is nothing about parenting - even special needs parenting that is perfect.  There is no such thing as perfection.   But I can learn to do my personal best and be open to receiving new messages and information that will help better guide me along the way.

Anat is hosting several workshops in different states, if you have a chance to attend, I still recommend it and think it's worthwhile.  I had seen this video at both of Anat's workshops and as a special needs parent you can truly feel the journey of a special needs parent.  Don't be afraid to let go of traditional therapy - it may lead you and your child to a road you never thought possible.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.