What does it take to entertain a baby in the car for over 8 hrs and have a fun time while doing it? Lots of bottles, a car seat mobile, pacifiers, a boon dispensing spoon along with plum baby food, lots and lots of wipes for the mess that ensues with the aforementioned products, and a sense of humor. Oh yes, throw in a really, really good, super easy baby (yes, our baby is the best and I'm bragging on him!).
Yesterday we loaded up at 630am and headed to Black Mountain, NC to meet with a new therapist. While we didn't plan to spend the ENTIRE day in the car (it only takes 2 hrs to get to Black Mtn from CLT), we didn't take into account the chance of rain, and lots of it. We had planned to take Pierce on a walk through the town that Nik and I first met and to ride through Asheville before heading back. But alas the rain caused us to abandon the idea of getting out, stretching our legs and enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery. We did however manage to drive through the college campus, see several of our friends from Montreat and head over to a friends house in Asheville. Oh AND we got to eat the best BBQ ever. I say all this to say that it was a great trip and it was so nice to be back in one of our favorite areas.
Ok, now on to what everyone is waiting for: our review of ABM therapy. I must admit, going in to this I was kind of skeptical. Not many have heard of ABM therapy and while those who have claim amazing results, I wasn't so sure that they weren't just desperate parents who were getting scammed by con-artists posing as therapist. I had heard some amazing results- from babies who weren't rolling over before that immediately started doing it after the session to children who are wheel-chair bound learning to walk, but I couldn't help but wonder, if this is such a great form of therapy, why isn't everyone doing it?
Nevertheless, we decided to give it a try, to take the trip to meet John and to put our assumptions aside until after we met with him. Our first impression with John was that he was warm and caring. He carefully listened as I outlined Pierce's rather lengthy medical history as well as what the previous physical therapy assessment had said. We laid Pierce on a table, in a comfy room with low-lighting and watched as John carefully and gently moved his hands along his body, intently studying Pierce's body. He examined many things- how Pierce's lower back moves, the symmetry in his limbs, and the ability for his feet to push when placed against a firm surface- all of this was done while Pierce was lying on his back. The entire time, Pierce was just as happy as he's always been and definitely at ease. If John did something that he did not like, he simply stopped and moved on. Gentle...that's the best word to describe this approach.
But if you're like me, you're probably thinking, ok if it's SO gentle, could it possibly be doing something? And therein lies the key to ABM- one of the key essentials to this therapy is to make changes SLOWLY so that the child's brain has time to process and absorb what they're learning about their body.
Here are a few things that really stand out about our first session: we were intrigued when after a few minutes of being with John, Pierce started moving his left leg more than he was at the beginning of the session, amazed when he had him almost rolling over in a matter of minutes but SHOCKED this morning when I got him up and noticed that his right eye is no longer turning in as much as it has been (something that the eye dr said would likely require glasses to fix). It's strange because I was so skeptical, but there's really no denying the change in Pierce. His eyes are now moving together instead of separately. They were not doing that yesterday morning.
Our therapy session was nothing short of amazing, but perhaps John's evaluation was even better. He told us that he was quite amazed with how well Pierce is doing considering his history. He noticed no stiffness or weakness in either side of his body and no significant problems. In fact, he really couldn't find any reason for us to continue ABM therapy at this point. What he recommended was us keeping a close eye on Pierce's development. He threw in that we should not become so obsessed with him following the "normal" pattern of development (rolling at 4 months, sitting by 6 months, walking by 1 year, etc), but rather we should watch Pierce's trajectory of development. He said that as long as we see an upward trend, Pierce does not need to see him.
I really can't say enough about John as a therapist. In a way, I'm almost sad that we won't be adding him to our regular routine as of now. But I AM so thrilled to hear that Pierce is doing so well and to know that we now have a great go-to resource if we ever grow concerned with Pierce's development. I appreciate his honesty and character- he could've easily taken advantage of two parents eager to do anything or buy anything to help their child thrive, but he didn't. Instead, he offered his vast experience and knowledge and let us know that if we ever had any questions or concern, that we could always call or email.
At this point, I'm fairly torn. I know that we will proceed with meeting with our new physical therapist and likely start the 2x/month. However, I really REALLY enjoyed the individualized approach with ABM and will find it very hard to continue in PT if I find that Pierce gets labeled and thrown in a box. One thing I know for sure is that if Pierce develops anything that is concerning to us or his dr, the first place we are headed is back to do ABM with John.
Thank you all for your prayers. Know that Pierce's development is really nothing short of a miracle from God and a result of your many prayers. I ask you to please continue praying that his little brain will fully heal and recover.
And for you preemie mommas in NC, if you'd like information on John and the ABM method, you can go to his website here for more information. We would highly recommend him!
Much love, Lindsay