Children with Special Needs & Brain Plasticity
Children with special needs and adults with chronic pain can spend years or even the majority of their lives managing their current health conditions. Many common diagnoses include attention deficit disorder (ADD) or ADHD, autism, chronic pain, down syndrome, and joint pain. For the past decade, neuroscientists have been studying brain plasticity and discovered that our brains do create new neurons throughout our lives.
Anat Baniel Method (ABM) NeuroMovement®
Anat Baniel Method® (ABM) NeuroMovement® is a “holistic approach to human functioning and action, based in the understanding that movement is the language of the brain. Movement provides information the brain needs to grow and organize itself. And, in return, the brain organizes all movement, thought, feelings, and action.”
This movement includes that of the skeleton and muscles, but also of thinking, emotion, and feelings. Every action includes movement: physical, thinking and feeling aspects of the self.
Functional Synthesis & Transformational Movement Lessons
The Anat Baniel Method® (ABM) NeuroMovement® has two solutions for treatment. One, consists of private one-on-one movement sessions called Functional Synthesis with a certified ABM practitioner. In Functional Synthesis sessions, the ABM practitioner works with the child or adult based on their current needs and skill levels. Babies as young as a few days old all the way up to adults in their 90s have undertaken Functional Synthesis sessions. Two, Transformational Movement Lessons can be done in groups or at home individually through DVD and online programs. Lessons focus on enhancing brain function, increasing flexibility and strength, relieving pain, and improving vitality and well-being.
Both Functional Synthesis and Transformational Movement Lessons are based on The Nine Essentials validated by latest findings in brain plasticity. The brain has the capacity to grow, develop, and create new neural connections and pathways throughout the entirety of a person’s life.
The Nine Essentials
Essential 1 – Movement with Attention
Movement helps the brain grow and form. The brain is organized through movement: the movement of body, thinking, feelings, and emotions. But movement alone is not enough. Automatic movement—movement done without attention—only grooves in the already existing patterns.
With attention to specific movement, the brain immediately starts building billions of new neurological connections that lead to brain learning and physical changes.
Essential 2 – Slow
To learn and master new skills and overcome limitation, the first thing to do is slow way down. Slow actually gets the brain’s attention and stimulates the formation of rich new neural patterns.
Slow gets us out of the automatic mode in our movements, speech, thoughts, and social interactions. Slow lets us feel and experience life at a deeper, more profound level.
Essential 3 – Variation
Variation is everywhere, and more than just the spice of life. It’s a necessity for optimum health. Variation provides your brain with the rich information it needs to create new possibilities in your movements, feelings, thoughts, and actions. It helps increase your awareness and lifts you out of rigidity and “stuckness.”
By introducing variation and playfulness into everything you do, you awaken all your senses. New ideas occur and new possibilities emerge in your life.
Essential 4 – Subtlety
We have all heard the expressions “no pain, no gain” and “try harder.” However, in order to overcome pain and limitation and thrive, the brain needs the exact opposite—less force. For the brain to receive new information, it needs to perceive differences.
By reducing the force with which we move and think, we increase our sensitivity. With the resulting increased sensitivity, we greatly enhance our brain’s ability to perceive the finest of differences. These perceptions give the brain the new information it needs to organize successful action and become more alive and vital in both body and mind.
Essential 5 – Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is self-generated; it is a skill you can develop, choose to do and become good at. Enthusiasm tells your brain what is important to you, amplifying whatever that is, making it stand out, infusing it with energy to grow more. It is a powerful energy that lifts you up and inspires you and others.
Enthusiasm lights up your brain, helping to usher in changes, transforming the most mundane situation or task, adding meaning and generating delight. Enthusiasm helps make the impossible possible.
Essential 6 – Flexible Goals
“Keeping your eyes on the prize” is a great way for most people to fail. Freeing yourself from the compulsion to achieve a goal in a certain way and at a certain time keeps you open-minded. You’re available to recognize opportunities you might never have noticed had you been fixated on a set course. There is no way to know in advance the path that will lead you to achieving your goal.
Know your goal and embrace all the unexpected steps, mis-steps, and re-routes. They are a rich source of valuable information for your brain to lead you to your goal. Flexible goals will reduce your anxiety and increase your creativity, resulting in greater success, vitality, and joy.
Essential 7 – The Learning Switch
The brain is either in a learning mode—the learning switch is on—or not. Healthy young children have their learning switch on and the dial turned on “high.” Their eyes are bright, their movement lithe, and they are full of energy. Repetition, drills, and everyday stresses, as well as habitual patterns of thought, exercise, and emotions, all tend to turn the learning switch off. The same happens when a child has special challenges, or a person has suffered trauma or injury.
For the brain to properly do its job, the learning switch needs to be on. Once on, at any age, life becomes a wonderful new adventure, filled with movement, creativity, and new possibilities.
Essential 8 – Imagination & Dreams
Einstein said: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview to life’s coming attractions.” Through imagination your brain figures out new possibilities before actually having to perform. When imagining, the brain grows new neural connections. Our dreams call upon us from our future. They give us our unique life path to follow and guide our brains to continue growing and developing.
Your imagination and dreams give you the ability to create something that has never been there before, transcending your current limitations and leading you to develop your authentic life path.
Essential 9 – Awareness
Awaring—the action of generating awareness—is to be knowledgeable about what you are doing, sensing, thinking, and experiencing at any given moment. Awaring is the opposite of automaticity and compulsion. It is a unique human capacity that can catapult us to remarkable heights.
When you are aware, you are fully alive and present. Your brain is working at its highest level, noticing subtle nuances of what is going on around and within you, revealing options and potentials, greatly accelerating learning. You are enlivened and joyful, contributing to others, becoming more enlightened, and fulfilling more and more of your human destiny.