decided to try out the Anat Baniel Method (ABM) of therapy for awhile (as opposed to traditional physical therapy). I must say, after our first full week of this therapy, I'm very impressed! No it's not a magical cure that cures all of Pierce's problems in a week, but boy have we seen some pretty remarkable changes!
Pierce's therapist, John was so, so good with him. My grandmother (who came up to help me out for the week) and I were so impressed with how gentle and patient he was. Pierce really took to him from the beginning and seemed to enjoy his time in therapy. Because ABM is a learning-based approach our main goal with therapy was to "turn on his learning switch" (This is one of the core principles of ABM). That means that while our traditional PT has been more focused on Pierce accomplishing the "normal" baby milestones (like rolling and sitting), our ABM therapy was more aimed at getting Pierce curious about the world and aware of how his body can move within space. John used gentle touch and movement to help rewire Pierce's brain. For instance, before we went in, Pierce had been keeping his left hand fisted and close to his chest. This was a sign of the brain damage that occurred when he suffered the brain bleed. So John used gentle touches, along with movement and variation (2 other components of ABM) to bring awareness to his left arm, signaling the brain to rewire itself and as a result, causing his left hand to become unfisted and more mobile. (The method is far more complex than this, but for time sake we will just leave it at that. For those parents wanting to know more, I'd highly recommend looking into Anat's website :))
Before I tell you our results, I wanted to share with you a few video clips of our time spent with John.
And here's a snapshot of what we did during our down time, including the amazing views we had from the house. We were so blessed to be able to stay at the home of one of my former professors (special thanks to the Ellingtons!). It was so, so nice to be back in Montreat (where Nik and I both went to college)- definitely felt more like a vacation than therapy!
Remember how I mentioned earlier that ABM is not a miracle, cure-all? Well that is certainly true, BUT the changes are there. They are many. And while subtle, they're BIG steps in Pierce's road to recovery. I'm confident of this.
Here are the things we've noticed that resulted from our first week of ABM:
-Perhaps the biggest change in Pierce has been his personality. It's hard to pinpoint, but he's interacting with us in a whole new way. Nik (who didn't get to go with us) couldn't believe how much older he is acting. He's definitely more alert and aware of what is going on around him.
-The other startling change was that Pierce now freely moves his left arm. While he still fists it every now and then, I'd say a good 75% of the time he has it wide open and is moving it freely. This is a huge improvement from before we went.
-Because his left hand is moving with greater ease, we've noticed Pierce really taking off with his baby signs. He's now signing 5 signs on a regular basis (water, mommy, more, eat and all done).
AND he's waving "hi" and "bye"
-Also in the language department: we've noticed Pierce experimenting more and more with his own voice. He's making all kinds of new (and hilarious!) sounds these days
-Another change we've noticed is the change in muscle tone in Pierce's legs. His hips are much looser and as a result, his legs are becoming easier to move.
-Pierce is also rolling when assisted with much great ease. Before he felt like a stiff board. Now, he knows to relax and tries to coordinate his legs, arms and head. While he's not rolling yet, I feel confident it's just around the corner for him!
-One of the BEST things to come out of our time up there is that Pierce has really started to belly laugh. You may have noticed in some of the videos that Pierce was laughing. I've heard it said that often times during ABM, kids will find their new found freedom quite hilarious. They often start laughing throughout the session (this was true for Pierce!). Well, once we got him home, he really started to open up. I'm talking all out baby giggles. We tried to capture this on video last night, but our cameras wouldn't cooperate (isn't that the way it always goes?!).
Because we've seen such remarkable changes in Pierce, we've decided to keep ABM as our primary method of therapy for awhile. This means we will be making trips to see John every 4-6 weeks. As of now, we will keep our in-home physical therapy at the usual 2x/month and use it as more of a supplemental resource. We will not be adding any OT or Speech at this time.
How you can pray:
1. Pray for continued health as this remains our first concern for Pierce. We are close to the end of RSV season, but Pierce still has one more Synagis shot to get before its officially over.
2. Pray that Pierce will continue to learn and integrate all that he learned this past week into his daily routine at home.
Thank you so much for walking this journey with us.