Well, I think the answer is yes. Yes with a but.
See, Malachi did improve quite noticeably. No, he didn't achieve any of The Important Milestones, but his body was much looser and better organized. He was happier and wiggled a lot more. He arched his back in controlled ways, such as to reach the edge of his highchair tray, instead of reflexively. He ate and drank better. He manipulated objects with his hands much more fluidly, and he was more tolerant of putting weight on his hands and elbows. And the crowning achievement was his ability to bring his legs up and over to roll onto his side, instead of arching his whole backside in a crescent moon shape.
|This isn't the greatest example, but it shows |
Malachi trying to lift his legs while rolling onto his side.
Notice I said was. Already in the time we've been back, I haven't seen Malachi pull his legs over nearly as often or as easily. I can feel the gains he made slipping away and for all my talk about how expensive it was to go down there, I want to sell my house and go right back. I feel like a drug addict and Malachi's progress is my crack.
Which leads me to my biggest criticism of the Anat Baniel Method: it's ridiculously expensive. Don't get me wrong, Anat Baniel has come up with an amazing thing and she deserves to get rich because of it. Likewise, she and her practitioners are providing a benefit that outweighs any of the doctors that we've seen and — combined with our insurance — paid thousands to. But this is not covered by insurance; not even a little bit. Not to mention, the training for this method is far, far less time and money than the four years of medical school and years of residency those doctors are required to take. The appointments look like a combination of massage, acupressure and guided yoga, yet at even half their $200-plus fee* they would be more expensive than any of those proven (i.e. researched) therapies.
So what gives? I did ask one person there why the sessions were so expensive and he not only didn't have an answer for me but didn't realize how much they were. He told me to ask the accounts receivable person why they are so expensive. If I were still a reporter and this were some kind of newspaper story, I definitely would, but I'm fairly certain that she doesn't have any idea either. That is simply the intersection between how much they feel their expertise is worth and how much they feel desperate parents are willing to pay.
When I started out looking for alternative therapies for my son's condition I had no idea what to base my judgement on since none of those methods had any definitive science behind them. I decided to go with my gut instinct about which practitioners seemed to really care about Malachi and which were going through the motions. Perhaps not coincidentally, this also happened to be those practitioners who were willing to give our struggling family a discount on their fee. That is how we found ABM and I'm eternally grateful to our practitioner for being so generous that we stuck with it and for continuing to be so generous that we can afford to continue.
But we won't be able to afford another trip down to California for quite some time — if ever — and that's where we saw the big gains. Even if we went with a more experienced ABM practitioner here in town, it would cost $600 per month to do the same schedule we are doing with our own practitioner. That's just not going to happen.
So, sorry, Malachi. I guess you should have chosen richer parents.
*We paid per-session fees of $200 and $250 to our two skilled practitioners in San Rafael. Anat Baniel herself is considerably more expensive. Run-of-the-mill practitioners, such as one you may have in your town, are considerably less. Each session is 30-45 minutes.