Jackson has been doing occupational (OT), physical (PT) and speech (ST) therapy since he was 14 months old. It has become a way of life for us. I believe on a foundational level all of this therapy has helped him in some way. However, since having a kid like Jackson I have learned to think outside of the box, which is scary and difficult for me sometimes. For example, I have always been a firm believer of medicine. Doctors and experts have spent years creating medicine that will help “heal” our ailments. But after trying numerous seizure medications on Jackson, and seeing some unpleasant side effects, I started thinking alternatively. I found that our FDA approved medications may not be the only answer. Since then I have viewed “alternative” forms of medication and therapy differently. This has been a huge step for me and liberating at the same time. To consider all possibilities and view new ideas with an open mind has helped me grow as a person and has made me a better Mom to Jackson.
About a year ago I heard of a therapy called Feldenkrais on one of the online communities I belong to. After doing some research online I thought it sounded interesting and looked for a local practitioner. There was one here in Spokane so I emailed her. After finding out our insurance wouldn’t cover this alternative kind of therapy I had to put it off since we were already paying out of pocket for Jackson’s horse therapy. I put it on my “wish list” for Jackson. Then something really big happened. Jackson sat up by himself for the first time. He had been riding horses for less than a month when this happened. Seeing the change in Jackson’s capabilities after riding horses made me realize that we need to try different things with him. Feldenkrais was always in the back of my mind, I desperately wanted to try it with Jackson. Then in July I started reading a book called “Kids Beyond Limits” by Anat Baniel who was a student of Feldenkrais. It is an amazing book and cemented my belief that we need to try different things with Jackson. I found an Anat Baniel practitioner here in Spokane and added another item to Jackson’s wish list. In the meantime my stepmom Sandy passed away and we found out we were going to get some money from her and Dad’s estate. Suddenly Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel Method (commonly referred to as ABM) became a possibility for Jackson. I am so thankful to my parents. I would much prefer to have them here, but it touches my heart immensely that they are making this possible for their grandson. I wish I could thank them and let them know how much it means to us.
Last month I contacted the Feldenkrais practitioner and we met with her. Ironically she had heard about the Anat Baniel practitioner too and had invited her to our appointment. Both felt Jackson was a good candidate for their therapies. We were really impressed with the methodology behind their therapy and felt like this was definitely something we wanted to explore for Jackson. We had a couple more sessions with the Feldenkrais practitioner and then had one session with the Anat Baniel practitioner. Next month we will do some more intensive work with them. I am excited to see if these therapies will help Jackson progress. I am hoping it helps him on some level that will be beneficial to his growth but I also don’t want to get my hopes up (continuing issues with my nemesis “hope”).
One condition to trying these treatments is that they ask that the patient cease their PT and OT therapies. The method and technique they use is contradictory to the traditional PT and OT method. Jackson will have a better chance at benefiting from Feldenkrais and ABM if he is no longer doing PT and OT. Making the call to cancel his PT/OT therapies for an undetermined amount of time was really scary to me. I am so accustomed to this being Jackson’s life and his future depending on these therapies that it literally made me sick to my stomach to stop them. I felt like I was jumping off a bridge and plunging into who knows what. I guess that is what we are doing. We don’t know if this therapy will help him, hurt him or have no effect at all. As frightening as it may be, I think it is what we need to do for Jackson right now. It’s a risk, but one worth taking. As Arthur C. Clarke once said “The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the possible.” Here we go into the possible.
P.S. Jackson will continue riding horses (hippotherapy) and yesterday he started aquatic therapy at a new facility. These therapies tend to be less traditional and will benefit him while doing the Feldenkrais and ABM.
If you are interested in learning more about the Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel Method, here are links to their websites:
Feldenkrais - http://www.feldenkrais.com/
Anat Baniel - http://www.anatbanielmethod.com/