When you have a child with special needs you spend your time looking for anything that will help them. Even though logically you know that there is no magic pill that will ‘cure’ them there’s always the hope that there is a therapy out there that will change the course of their life for the better. Alongside this hope comes a massive serving of worry and guilt that you haven’t tried the latest therapy yet or that you haven’t spent enough time researching or that you aren’t doing enough, it’s heaps of fun as you can imagine. However once in a while if you’re lucky you strike gold and find a therapy that really hits the spot with your child.
Since Lyla was diagnosed I had heard whispers of a therapy called Feldenkrais that had resonated with many children with cerebral palsy but the whispers were drowned out in a sea of noise which accompanies the time after your child is diagnosed. Finally this year the whispers got loud enough for me to start listening and we made the decision to give it a try with Lyla.
Feldenkrais is a movement therapy based on neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to heal itself. The Anat Baniel Method is a version of Feldenkrais which has been developed specifically for children with special needs. The method involves 30 minute lessons with an ABM practitioner and are about slow, small movements which allow Lyla’s brain to connect with her body.
The first session was like someone had flicked a switch in Lyla that turned all her movement off and allowed her to be still and listen to her body for possibly the first time ever. I was amazed that just 10 minutes into the lesson Lyla was totally quiet and tuned into her body. In fact she was so quiet I actually thought she had fallen asleep when she was really in a state of deep relaxation and learning. I didn’t know that this was as amazing to our practitioner as it was to us until the following lesson when the same thing happened again and she expressed to me how incredible it Lyla’s reaction was and how emotional she felt about. BLOWN AWAY! We had found something that connected with Lyla on such a deep level and it’s hard to explain how that feels, it’s like winning the lottery.
After just a few lessons our practitioner told us about an American woman, Maralee Platt, who had worked with Anat Baniel for many years and who was coming out to Melbourne for 6 weeks to do intensive therapy with children. We jumped on board for as many lessons as we could fit in amongst Lyla’s conductive education therapy at CPEC and Blair’s schooling. Then we did something we haven’t done before. we reached out to Lyla’s Angels on Facebook and asked them for help to pay for Lyla’s intensive ABM therapy. We shared what the lessons had done for her so far and in the weeks that followed we were overwhelmed by the love, support and donations that flowed from our Angels all over the world. We ended up with enough money to pay for not only the intensive lessons with Maralee but to continue with mini monthly intensives with our Aussie ABM practitioner, Louise Rothols, for the rest of the year.
Asking for help is really hard and it took a long time for us to build up to doing it. Nothing can change Lyla’s brain disorder but this therapy can help her become more independent and it wasn’t an option for us not to try it. The support from Lyla’s Angels made it all possible and more. It’s hard to express our gratitude and how deeply moved we are, I hope everyone who donated knows that we think about their generosity every day and we would do the same for any one of them in a heartbeat.
I’ll share the amazing highlights from Lyla’s intensive lessons with Maralee in another post but for now, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!