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.
WHAT THE F AM I DOING WRONG?????????
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?