Thursday, April 26, 2012

ABM & Dylan

As many of you know, my son Dylan has spastic quad cerebral palsy.  On February 13th of this year, my son turned four years old.  Three days before Dylan's birthday, his school physical therapist called me on the phone.  During the conversation, I told the PT that I was researching the Anat Baniel Method and considering taking my son to a practitioner.  (I had begun researching ABM because not only was my son not progressing, I was told at our last IEP meeting that he had actually regressed some.  The PT explained that he had become resistant and uncooperative during his PT sessions.)  As a response, the PT "explained" to me that I needed to accept my son for who he is (I do) and understand that not only would Dylan never sit up on his own or walk, he was nowhere close to doing so.  She gently and  kindly explained (she is a well intentioned, kind person) to me that if I did not learn acceptance of my son's condition, I would only set both myself and my son up for a lifetime of disappointment and heartache.  She said that if we were lucky, Dylan's vision (he has cortical visual impairment) might improve enough over the next couple of years for him to be eligible for a motorized wheelchair.  Her final recommendation was for me to hire a massage therapist to give my son weekly at home massages.  This, she said, would not only keep him comfortable, but, in the event that at some point in the next decade or so there was a medical breakthrough to treat cp, my son's body would be in good condition for treatment.

Three days later, on Dylan's 4th birthday, we had a Dr.'s appointment with Dr. Nuzzo, an orthopaedic surgeon.  We had heard great things about him and were hoping for a second opinion to the botox treatments that had been recommended for our son's spasticity.  I found Dr.  Nuzzo to be a funny, quirky, and brilliant man.  When I told him of my discussion with the PT, of her belief that he would never sit up or walk on his own, his response was "So what?" After a few seconds of my stunned silence, he added "What I am saying to you is that you just gave me the 1st line of a very dramatic chapter... 'It was a dark & stormy night..'  So NOW what happens?" Dr. Nuzzo's recommendation was that our son receive a very non-invasive procedure that he pioneered, called PERCS, and alcohol blocks to treat his spasticity.  We followed his recommendation and on February 28th Dr. Nuzzo performed the procedure on my son.

After the meeting with Nuzzo, I ended all of my son's PT and took over his therapy.  I did not want anyone who did not believe in my son's potential to continue to work with him.  I began following Anat Baniel's 9 essentials and learning as much about ABM and neuroplasticity as I could. I was not entirely sure what I was doing, but believed in the method and felt that it not only made sense, but was backed by sound science.  I also contacted Marcy Lindheimer, an ABM practitioner in NYC, and set up our first ABM appointment for Dylan. Our first ABM session with Marcy was March 6th.  Dylan is usually very shy around new people, but he took to Marcy right away.  When we walked out the door after our first session, Dylan said "Can I do that again?"   After a total of only three sessions with Marcy, my son began commando crawling for the first time!  (Prior to this, he had little to no tolerance for being on his belly.)  He also began doing full rolls and seemed happier and more comfortable in general.  We were so impressed with Marcy and the ABM method that after the 3rd ABM session, we set up a week long intensive for Dylan.  Starting on April 16th, Dylan saw Marcy for two sessions a day for 5 days.  It was a rewarding week and it is clearly apparent that Marcy has a passion and a true gift for her work.  She is always very in tune with where my son is at in any given moment and gently works around the edges of his current abilities.

Which brings me to the point of this post, written less than one week after his last intensive lesson with Marcy.  Dylan's school has reported each day this week that Dylan has been happy, laughing a lot, and holding his head up!  While working with my son the other day, I was so impressed with how well Dylan was sitting up with me that I decided to take video.  I asked my son if he could stay sitting up while I got the video camera.  He said "OK".  To my amazement he stayed comfortably sitting up while I walked into the kitchen to get the camera.  Before the intensive with Marcy, if I moved away from him, his eyes would flinch, his arms would fly up into "high guard" and he would fall over...  Here is the video taken on April 24th of Dylan.


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