Floor Time Frustration

Something I've really incorporated during the past year is how important it is to stay positive. As in, it actually improves outcomes to focus on what is going right and ignore what isn't.

That said, it's time for a rant.

A year after we first discovered the Anat Baniel Method, we went pretty hardcore into it. During the past two years, we've spent tens of thousands of dollars on lessons with senior practitioners, including Anat Baniel herself.

A key point of ABM is to leave the child on his back on the floor as much as possible. Anat Baniel believes that special needs children, when given the proper information and treatments, will progress on more or less the same path as a neurotypical baby, just slower. For the same reasons physical therapists across the nation discourage the use of Johnny Jump-Ups and other standing devices for neurotypical babies, Anat argues that most equipment, such as walkers, standers and the like, only serve to in-grain bad habits and teach the child ways of moving that won't lead towards independent and pain-free movement.

This has never quite felt right to me, but Anat is right about so much else that we decided to give it a try. For at least a year — during Malachi's most critical period of brain development — we gave him as much floor time as he would tolerate and had him in supported sitting the rest of the time. A year ago, we relaxed this policy to try out a gait trainer, but rarely used it until Malachi suddenly learned how in September.

Throughout the past two years, we've had the exact same pattern with floor time repeated over and over again. Malachi will roll over one day, and I think joyfully: "This is it! He is finally putting it together! Pretty soon, he'll be rolling all over the house!" But he doesn't really do it again for months. Then Malachi will learn how to crawl, and I think joyfully: "This is it! He is finally putting it together! Pretty soon he'll be crawling all over the house!" But then he doesn't really do it again for months.

I keep waiting for him to feel internally motivated to use these skills, to get that object, to explore the house on his own, but no matter how much I wish and wait and leave him alone to surprise me, IT NEVER HAPPENS.

Check this out. Here is a post I made before our second trip to the Anat Baniel Method Center containing this video.

Here is a video I made today. I tried to get one as similar as possible — because honestly he looks exactly the same today as he did back then — but I'll post this one because it's pretty indicative. He wants and needs my help to roll over, no matter how often I try to encourage him to do it himself, or leave him to figure it out himself, or add variations to his playing surface with bolsters, or be quietly enthusiastic, or hang out with him on the floor, or find fun toys or games to play on the floor, or any of the other things I've been told to do.

Floor time at 3.5 years old from Shasta Kearns Moore on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, it feels like all of our friends' kids who are doing ABM are taking off, like this one and this one and this one and this one.


I mean, yeah. Malachi has been improving a lot in the past two years. He is very smart. He talks very well. He can (assisted) kneel. He can (assisted) pull to stand. He can sit unassisted for short periods of time.

But the kid is nearly four years old and 99 percent of the time he needs or wants to be anywhere other than where he is, it is somebody else doing the moving for him.

I feel like, if anything, our imposed floor time rule has taught him that the floor is where he feels frustrated and powerless.

I know we are blessed in many ways and that there are plenty of other children doing ABM who have less function than Malachi does now. The grass is always greener on the other side.

But seriously? What does it take to get this guy to move by himself?

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  1. I feel your pain, but in my case it isn't movement, it's speech. I'm so, so, so, so, so tired of Nathan saying "This" for just about everything. Or saying, "Ma" instead of "Mama", "See" instead of "Sissy", "Day" instead of "Daddy", "Pa" instead of "Papa", "Be" instead of "BeBe" - the list goes on and on. And it's not that he CAN'T say Papa and Bebe and Mama and so on, it's that he WON'T. I read blogs and articles about speech and 95% (I'm being generous - it's closer to 100) of what they recommend is stuff that we already do and have been doing for a long time.

    And don't even get me started on the potty... ;)

  2. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Oh Shasta I'm sorry this is so discouraging. It's hard to weed through the oodles of information but still be the one responsible for making tough decision. Incidentally, I came over here to link up Malachai's giggly first time in his power chair. I'm rounding up so mobility posts and I LOVED that one. Maybe go back and treat yourself to that precious giggle.

  3. Anonymous5:27 PM

    First let me say I am no expert but you seem to be doing a great job. And I'm going to throw something out here. Given Malachi's very high cognitive abilities maybe it's time, or time soon, to get his input into floortime work. Having him help you set the goal and actual time on the floor and what he thinks May help him best. 3.5 is still a little young for this,but given how bright he is, it's something to think about.

  4. Good morning
    Here in Greece, we use mostly the Bobbath method. We had a physiotherapist for 5 years (since my son was 3 months old). Last October, for some reason we changed our son' s therapist. The new therapist also uses the Bobbath method, but in a different way. We saw much more progress in these few months. Also we changes our therapist for occupational therapy, the Progress is spectacular. We also saw great progress with hippotherapy.

  5. I also want to tell you: Don't hesitate to change whatever you don't like and try new things, doctors , therapists,until you find the ones that feel right. I was afraid too, to make changes, I was forced to make changes but finally it worked out for the best.
    The choices I have to make for my son are so many and the responsibility is heavy on my shoulders, if I 'm doing the right thing, take the right decisions, employ the right therapists, you know...
    Everyone does his best, but it's a lot for a human being. Only God knows what's best for everyone of us, including our Children. We pray to bring that in front of us.

  6. Shasta, I am sorry you are feeling so sad...Being a fellow mom of twins, one typically developing, one with ASD diagnosis/motor difficulties, I completely empathise with your frustration and need to vent. Sometimes it gets too much, doesn't it? But please, rest assured you are doing a great job for Malachi. You're a great mom and the best advocate for your son!!! I will send you a loooong Email to share with you some insights, based on what I have learned lately on my own journey with Nathan. We have stopped ABM and embarked on a different method with him, with absolutely amazing results. I wish so much that Malachi would benefit from it as well...In the meantime, hang in there...Going now to write the promised Email :-) Love from Norway, Fernanda

    1. Hi Fernanda, I am also in the same boat. We are trying ABM. You were mentioning about some different method. It would be of great help, if you could provide some information about that method. I was wondering if i could contact you? or you can email me - shubhagao@gmail.com

      Thank you in advance.



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