Transformational Experience for ABM Practitioner and Child on the Autism Spectrum
A few weeks ago, Jenna Stewart, an ABM NeuroMovement® Practitioner certified in working with Children with Special Needs, came to help Neil Sharp and me at the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit & Expo in Orlando, Florida, where we were presenting. Jenna mentioned to me that she was about to begin working with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who was flying in from Bolivia.
Jenna told me that she did not speak Spanish. I suggested that she coach his mother to translate anything that Jenna tells her child to say it exactly the way Jenna said it and to do it immediately. I also recommended that she ask his mother not to add anything or subtract anything, or try to influence her child to follow directions. I recommended that Jenna ask his mother to simply be a neutral translator.
I made these recommendations because, by doing this, the practitioner (in this case Jenna) can use language, the variability in language, and the immediacy of language to help support the child’s ability to perceive differences. This will help the child’s brain to be able to make sense of his experience and the world around him, and to better organize his own thoughts, feelings, and movements.
Read about Jenna’s experience in her own words:
When we spoke in Orlando, I told you I was going to be seeing a child with autism from Boliva for 10 days. You gave me a wonderful piece of advice, which was to have the parents translate accurately and immediately.
Jenna works with Joaquin
We began this way and within a few minutes he was biting. I told him he was biting and began to introduce differences between hard and soft.
As our lessons progressed, he started listening differently. He was following me more, and responded with more and more ease.I worked with him and he was able to pay attention to his fingers and toes. And he was able to participate in the carp-jumping and standing-on-his-knees NeuroMovement lessons, etc .
He then began, for the first time, to play with toys using his hands. He crawled on the beach, listened and responded more to his mom, tried to play the piano using his fingers, and calmed down a lot. As the lessons progressed, he would simply walk into my room and sit on my table waiting for me to begin working on him.
On the last day of their visit, his mom reported that he was listening to her even more when they were at the beach, he was following directions, and he was talking and responding to others. And for the first time, he unscrewed the bottle cap from a water bottle, drank from it, and screwed the cap back on.
Over time, he began saying English words! He also loved sounds, so we combined consonants and vowels creating all kinds of variations and distinctions.
Joaquin and Jenna learn from each other
I learned so much about him and myself with all these lessons.
Anat, words cannot begin to describe the tears of gratitude and relief that I saw from the mom of this child.
Below is the email message that Jenna received from Joaquin’s mom.
We are already back at home. The return trip was so much easier! Joaquin was very calm and more connected.
My mom and the therapists noticed a big change in Joaquin; they all want to know more about ABM.
We began watching the videos. I’ll let you know as soon as I have any questions.
Thanks again. We are very thankful for all you’ve done and the results of this trip.
I am so proud of and inspired by Jenna, and all the other ABM NeuroMovement® Practitioners, who are doing incredible work out in the world!
And thank you, Alejandra, for allowing us to share Joaquin’s story with others.
Jenna Stewart is a certified ABM NeuroMovement® Practitioner in Melbourne, Florida, and the Director of the Connectivity Center for Movement & Dynamic Change. You can contact Jenna at email@example.com or go to www.connectivitymovement.com for more information.