Big Decisions

With all this cognitive development going on, Mattie had not really been “working” on her gross motor skills. Since our last post we have had quite a few ABM sessions in Gainesville and in NYC. We also started back doing cranial sacral massages. The NYC trip went very well. By the last session, Mattie was able to sit up nice and tall, hips were loose, and legs were relaxed. Since we have been back from NYC, Mattie has started to get on all fours in a crawling position all by her self. She is starting to twist her back as she roll which is the starting point to her coming into a sit and she is using her elbows for support when she props herself up. All of these new and exciting movements!! Woohoo! We are constantly trying to make her aware of her body. I am always pointing out her body parts and having her touch her knees and toes 🙂

Sarah, Mattie’s Nanny, sent this video to me the other day. This video shows Mattie cleaning up (takes after her momma). I know I don’t post a lot of videos of Mattie, but this one shows her in her “true form”, on the floor with restrictive movements. CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO!

Jim and I ended up making one of the biggest decisions to date as far as Mattie’s therapy is concerned. As of November, we stopped doing all traditional physical therapy. This was not an easy decision. I have been back and forth a million times this past year on what we should do, ABM + PT, only PT, only ABM. It was an internal battle that I fought everyday. How do you take away the one therapy that the medical community “says” works? It was like we are giving them the middle finger and saying “who cares about all your research and studies, we are doing it our way”. That is scary! Once we made the decision, I felt instant relief. A weight was lifted off my shoulders and I knew in my heart and mind that we were making the right choice… for now 🙂

When we started ABM, Jim was skeptical and I was hopeful. When I read that they want you to stop traditional OT and PT, I thought it was crazy. Over time I have really come around to the benefits of ABM and I would be willing to say that a large portion of the progress Mattie has made so far has been a result of our ABM efforts. Is this the fix all, the one therapy that will instantly make Mattie sit up and walk? The answer is no (I am not delusional), but ABM helps Mattie become aware of her own body in her own way. She is never forced to do anything. By her lying down on the ground, she is learning how to move herself like most infants do. The natural progression with babies is to roll, sit up, crawl, cruise, and then eventually walk. Babies have to learn each of these processes and build on them in order to move on to more complicated movements. One of the teachings of ABM is to not do things with a child that they aren’t ready for. The idea is to work incrementally, at the pace of the individual child. This means no walking or standing. We had come to a point in PT that walking was the main goal. Yes, Mattie can be placed in a walker and with assistance she can take steps, almost across a room but… she does not like it and most of the time will cry. When this happens I know that there is no learning going on, her brain is shut off. Can you imagine if you had no balance and were forced to try and walk? Yikes!

As much as I believe in ABM and know that it is helping, I know I need to keep an open mind as far as her progress or even her non-progress. The last thing I want to do is take something away that could be helping Mattie. My hope is that one day we can find a mesh between these two therapies to create the ideal learning environment for her. Until then, we have committed ourselves to 8-10 ABM sessions a month with an upcoming trip to Cali to the main ABM center in March.

Right around the time that we made this decision, a father of a young boy with CP posted this,

“Special needs parents have a tough job. We have to decide what is best for our kids. We have to gamble the most valuable thing in our lives; their future. There is no way to know if your decision was the right one. We will always be afraid we chose wrong. And that’s a good thing. That fear will make us think deeply about every choice we make. But the other side of that coin is that we have to be able to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make. We can’t let guilt and regret make us give up looking or afraid to try something new. Make the best decision you can then forgive yourself if you were wrong. As long as you do the first part, somehow you will be able to do the second part”.

No truer words!

Mattie Christmas 2012

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