The Story of Gabriel: Overcoming the Challenges of Cerebral Palsy and Hearing Loss

Gabriel Nikolakakis

Gabriel Nikolakakis

Halfway through my pregnancy we knew that one of my twins was not going to make it to birth due to a heart defect. At 26 weeks, I went into premature labor. Through an emergency C-section, Michael was born sleeping and Gabriel was rushed into the NICU

[neonatal intensive care unit], our home for 146 days.

It was a long road full of ups and downs, and the belief that Gabriel would come home held us together. And he did, still on oxygen, but nevertheless he came home.

We felt grateful to have had a chance to see a miracle happening before our eyes every day. He was born weighing two pounds, eyes still fused, fed through a tube, and breathing through a machine…but he made it.

A few months after being discharged, Gabriel was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. We also noticed that he was delayed in his physical development, which is normal for premature babies.

We started to search for alternative therapies since physiotherapy and occupational therapy were not giving Gabriel significant results; and the focus was on what he couldn’t do, which was very frustrating.

Gabriel doing ABM Lessons with Judith Dack

Gabriel doing ABM Lessons with Judith Dack

That’s when our osteopath recommended the book The Brain that Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge. This book opened a new world of possibilities for us. We started to ask questions, and the Anat Baniel Method (ABM) sounded like a good fit.

Then, I read the book Kids Beyond Limits. Each page of the book was an ‘A-Ha’ moment for me, and I cried to read Anat’s beautiful and healing words. I started to understand that my child wasn’t broken, and we should be working and building on what he could do.

We immediately started ABM lessons in Toronto. As Gabriel’s ABM lessons progressed, his hearing kept improving.

A few months later, Gabriel was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. It was hard at first, but we were grateful to have an incredible support system around us who showed us that Gabriel was the same boy before he got the ‘label.’

We kept doing ABM and after each block of lessons, we noticed our son coming alive and more aware of his surroundings and his own body.

I insisted at the hospital to re-do Gabriel’s hearing test under anesthesia for a more precise result. To our surprise, the ABR [auditory brainstem response] test showed a profound hearing loss. However, in the booth test a few weeks later, it revealed normal hearing on one side and a mild loss on the other.

The audiologist and ENT [ear, nose, and throat specialist] doctor could not explain his ‘atypical’ case, especially after Gabriel started to speak in English and Portuguese.

Fabiana, Gabriel, and family

Fabiana Bacchini & Family – Gabriel, Stelios & Thomas Nikolalakis

Without a question in our minds, this incredible improvement is because of ABM.

We have incorporated the 9 Essentials in our lives.

And each ABM lesson opens up a world of possibilities for Gabriel and for us as a family.

—Fabiana Bacchini, Gabriel’s Mother


The ABM Practitioner who works with Gabriel is Judith Dack. She is located in Toronto, Ontario and can be reached at 416-481-2381 or judithdack@uptownstudio.ca. To learn more about Judith’s work, go to www.uptownstudio.ca.


Thank you so much for sharing Gabriel’s story with us, Fabiana, and for sending these beautiful photos. I am happy to hear that ABM is working for him and for your family!

Anat Baniel


Learn more about the NeuroMovement approach of the Anat Baniel Method.

Read about ABM and the amazing outcomes for children with cerebral palsy.