Anat Baniel session 2

During our 2nd meeting with Anat, it was as if we met an entirely different person. Night and day is too mild to describe the difference in her attitude. She came out to grab us in the waiting area with a smile, and was very kind and sweet. She started out the session by praising Nathan and commenting on how smart he is and how willing he is to learn and how responsive to the lessons. Her charisma was cranked up to “high” and it’s too bad I’m so jaded otherwise I would’ve quite enjoyed myself.

We had a bit of a setback at the beginning of the session as Nathan had managed to poop so we had to go and change him before starting. While we changed him she asked me what changes I saw and I told her a few of the things I’d noticed – the fact that he was “talking” responsively, he was moving and responding to commands, his muscle tone seemed better in his arms. She told me that we’ve probably raised his IQ a few points in just the last few days.

Once Nathan was changed she got him on the table and started working on his hands while she talked. She was rotating his hands in circles and using all kinds of tricks to get him to relax and open the hands.

It seemed that her agenda for this session was to “teach” us about her method. She started by talking about how all of Nathan’s problems are based on the brain and we should be focusing on helping improve his brain instead of wasting time workign on other things. She spoke about mapping the body and movements in the brain, about using brain plasticity to our advantage, about the fact that if we can teach his brain to control muscle tone then a lot of his issues will go away.

She then went to tell me that I am incorrect in my views on rehabilitation. During one of my sessions with Neil I had mentioned the different things we’re doing with Nathan, which he relayed to Anat. She told me that it is not correct to have a therapy for every problem – that’s not how the brain works. You can’t have a therapy for infant reflexs, a therapy for anti-gravitational response, a therapy for movement, a therapy for structure. She didn’t mention exactly HOW the brain works – just that my theory was wrong. She said that we just need one therapy to help the brain mature and function more effectively – which is the foundation of her work.

Then she went on to tell me that even reflex integration therapy is completely unscientific. She told me that she had spoken to the foremost expert in the WORLD in infant reflexes (she didn’t mention the name) and she said that reflexes can’t just be integrated into the brain. Reflexes are immature responses and as the brain matures and the cortex develops, the brain integrates these reflexes. If the cortex is immature, no amount of reflex integration work can eliminate these reflexes.

As she was talking she continued working on Nathan’s hands and then got him to relax his grip. Nathan was pretty relaxed and at some point even laughed at Anat’s animated way of speaking. After a little while she moved on to working on teaching him to roll to his stomach and had him doing something similar to the first appointment – teaching him to get to his belly from his back and how to lift up his head while on his belly.

I tried responding to Anat’s soliloquy and explaining to her that I have noticed a difference in Nathan’s infant reflexes since we started reflex integration therapy and I’ve noticed that it’s freed Nathan up to have a greater ability to move. I also know of a few families who’ve seen amazing results with reflex integration therapy. She did say, ultimately what matters is not the science, it’s whatever works, right. But I quickly realized that this wasn’t a conversation and that she wasn’t really looking for feedback, that she had a message to deliver and interrupting her wouldn’t serve a purpose.

She continued to tell me that after meeting with Neil and Sylvie, she felt Nathan had great potential to learn. She felt that it was shameful that he was so delayed and that whoever had worked iwth Nathan before her should be ashamed of themselves for not helping him to develop more than he is.

However, she told me that in order for us to know to what extend this method can help Nathan, we should stop all other therapies.

She proposed that we come back 3 more times in 3 months to the ABM center. During that time we could work with her a couple more times, and the rest of the times with Neil and Sylvie. While at home, we’d work with Victoria every week. It would look something like this: 1 week intensive at the ABM center for 10 sessions, the following week 2 sessions with Victoria, the following week 4 sessions with Victoria, then another 1 week intensive at the ABM center, etc. After 9 weeks of this she felt we could really have a good idea of Nathan’s capacity and ability to learn.

However, she stressed that the key was for us to stop EVERYTHING else – no PT at all, no standers or walkers, no ABR or Medek or Laser. Nothing at all other than ABM. She felt that even a tiny bit of any of these would foil the attempt of working exclusively at giving input to his brain via this method. So if I decided to do this intensive trial and I cheated by doing anything else it would invalidate the trial. She then told me to think about it and let them know in a few days.

Once she finished delivering her message, the session was over. She handed Nathan back to me and apologized but she had other clients waiting and a guest speaker coming that night to the center. I didn’t really have time for questions or to express any of my views or concerns. The whole session was about 45 minutes.

My impression of the session? I wish we would’ve had this talk at a different time – not when she was meant to be actively working on Nathan. The main reason I went to the Center was because she was supposed to be able to perform magic with her hands and get incredible results in just 1 or 2 sessions. I didn’t see any magic with Anat – I saw magic in Neil and Sylvie’s hands. I am sure she could have magic if that was her intent, but the first session was a disaster and the second session she was more focused on teaching and talking. She did work with him while she talked but the focus was just not on him – you can’t really talk to the parent and the child at the same time. So I still felt disappointed after this session. I didn’t need to be taught about brain development. I didnt’ need to be taught about her method. I had already done my research and that’s why I was there. I did want her to work with Nathan and try and do something magical, which was the only thing that was lacking.

Her proposal I found quite smart. It makes all the sense in the world from the point of view of determining the effectiveness of the method.

Will we do it? That’s fodder for tomorrow’s post!


  1. I find that everybody thinks that “their” way is the only way. I use ABR to address the structure and Feldenkrais to address awareness and movement. I use traditional PT to stregthen his existing structure and to help ward off atrophy. Is this perfect? Who knows. It works for us and that is all that matters.

  2. I have found this to be one of the more challenging aspects of being a parent of a child with a disability: how to decide what will best help my son reach or surpass his potential. All specialists have their own philosophies and frames of reference and think their way is the best, or only, way. How to decide? And how do I stop stressing once I’ve made a decision that I’ve made the right one?!

    I have stopped thinking that there is a perfect solution or a “right” way — as Katy said, it’s all a matter of finding out what is working for your child … I’m looking forward to hearing what you decided!


  3. I’ve been reading your ABM posts with great interest. Emma did 2 different weekend sessions with a semi-local practitioner and I think they went pretty good. She wants Emma to do a couple intensive weeks and I think we really should do it – it’s just a matter of finding the time. I think the Fall would be the best time to try that out.

    After reading your posts I don’t think we’ll be making the trip to get Emma treated by Anat in person 🙂

    I agree with Tara – every specialist has an opinion on what is best for our children, and these opinions are very different! It’s up to us to sort out what works for our children, our life, our budget. Looking forward to the next post!

  4. I agree with Katy. That’s the one recurring theme with a lot of alternative therapists. They’re way is the only way. Yesterday I counted a total of 11 traditional doctors addressing all of Aaron’s issues. Some of the benefits of their treatments overlap but they all have specialities and even they can admit they don’t know it all or have a solution to every problem. How in the world can some therapists make the claim they have the one majic pill or treatment to help everychild? Unless a child is mildly affected, this just seems so ridiculous. Just my two cents. Your research is so thorough. I agree the doctors and other professionals know a lot. Most of the time they know a lot more than we do. But they don’t know everything all of the time, nor do they know our babies like we do.

  5. I also don’t like a therapist who talks with me while working with my son. I try to avoid it as much as I can. Some very wise therapists taught me that our intention during the therapy is very important.
    Maybe is AB right about other therapies and maybe now. Does she want to say that there is no possibility for synergy effect? I believe in mother’s intuition. So fingers crossed for your right decision.

  6. We also had an osteopathic doctor who does cranial manipulation tells to stop everything else we were doing and only come to her, she is a great doctor and has been practicing for 61 years, gso we carried on seeing her but didn’t stop other therapies, thank goodness because she became ill and didn’t work for 2 months! Where would my daughter have been then? I think it’s great that AB is so passionate about her therapy and that’s what you want in a therapist to believe that what they are doing is going to work. But I think your initial view about various therapies is correct a child goes to school a learns various subjects at school not only one and his learn maths does not effect his ability to learn history. Well that my 2 cents worth. Hope you make the right decision.

  7. HI, don’t agree with AB on exclusivity. I did AB and medek with my kid (mild Cp) at the same time. The therapist didn’t like it – but I convinced her to continue the sessions. I was not worried about which therapy would get the credit (as I think that is what the therpist is concerned about), I just wanted my daughter to move along…..and she did…

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