Friday, June 8, 2012


I read the book "Kids Beyond Limits." After much decompression from our Institutes experience, we took the recommendation of a friend who has a brain injured child and planned to try the Anat Baniel Method for David. There are practitioners all across the country, but we decided that if we were going to find out if this was something truly valid, we would go to the source and see Anat Baniel herself, so we booked our trip to San Rafael, California. That was early spring. It got here fast.  

Beyond the daily routine of food prep and medical maintenance, we had to prepare for our trip. Myrian, our nanny, and I blended 23 days worth of food. I talked to the boys about the upcoming events. Jeremy and I packed our bags and I braced myself for our family's travels, beginning with the odyssey of making it smoothly to our terminal. Many beeps and blips and pat-downs and inspections later, we got on the plane and David was excited. This kid LOVES flying. 

David is ready for takeoff!

Once we got on the plane and I felt our family was all in one piece, I became excited about our trip. Jeremy booked our flight to land in LA, so we could take the scenic route and drive up Highway 1 to the San Francisco area. Our first stop: Malibu! And it was lovely. We began our day with the most magnificent brunch overlooking the ocean.

Poke, eggs benedict and an exciting bloody mary

We proceeded on, with David taking in the sights and sounds and doing a great job in his carseat. Up we went, out of the fog and into a sunny day and miles of curvy roads that weave in and out of beautiful terrain and unnerving cliffs overlooking the curvature of the earth. One one hand, I was grasping my seat and holding my breath as we passed all the "falling rocks" signs and uber-sharp curves with minimal clues as to what was next. On the other, I was mesmerized by how high up we were, and the sublime experience of what we were viewing. 

Me and my Bids taking a scenic rest

As evening came, we were close to our destination. We unloaded and I set up shop in our hotel room. Speaking of hotel rooms, it seems like an eternity since I've been in one. I'm used to life in my kitchen, the hub of the house, so I had to get my bearings and work with David's blended food sans blender and deep freeze, and lacking the usual large supply of bottles, syringes, and other utensils. Before I knew it, I had a little system that worked. 

Wine glasses and water bottles and a leaky freezer bag of blenderized food...making it work!

Monday morning, we woke up and felt as if we had plenty of time to get ready for David's first session...until an alarm went off. No joke. It took me a few seconds to realize that yes, there is some kind of emergency happening. I'm sure I was thinking a million other things too, but we picked up David and his suction machine, wearing our pajamas and quickly headed outside. One of the laundry facilities had caught on fire, and fortunately, it was contained quite quickly. We managed to show up on time to our first session with Sylvia. 

I did not know what to expect. I sat with eager eyes, watching as she worked with David on the table. He was alert. He was attentive. And he certainly seemed to be enjoying what was going on. During the first session, I noticed that his eye movement was changing. David was more responsive with his eyes. So much so, in fact, that when Jeremy put him in the stroller and I put some beads in front of him, he immediately looked directly at the beads and blinked. This was the first time I have seen him do something like this. A few hours later, David had another session with Sylvia. I asked him if he was excited. "Yes" was his response via facilitated communication. 

David is wide-eyed and alert!

David had two sessions with Neil. By this time, he realized that he could do some new things and was ready to just GO! Neil was great about communicating to David to hold on and to take things in. In one of the sessions, David played with pushing his foot on the table and scooting toward me at the other end to receive a big kiss. 

Mapping the brain. I've never seen David in this position before.

Again, David is alert. I can tell he is thinking...

We watched our son. At the end of the first day, he waved to everyone he saw when we were leaving. He soon fell asleep after each session. Later, at the hotel, we saw him exploring and playing with the new information he had received. He has discovered his elbows, and has begun to purposefully bump them around in his environment. He fervently tried rolling. When I held him, I could feel a difference in his posture, namely, a relaxation of his joints. I watched as David used his hands in new positions to feel his body and his environment. One night, I put my umbrella on top of David and he had a great time under there. I wish I knew what was happening in his brain. From my perspective, all I could see was two little "Bid" feet moving around from under the umbrella. It was beautiful. I may not know exactly what is happening, but I know that this is the most engaged that I have seen him in a relatively long while. 

What's going on in there?

On our free time, we took a trip to the Muir Woods. It was an intense day for all of us, and I felt like we just needed to walk. We needed to all just walk through the redwoods and Jeremy and I agreed we all needed healing. So we walked. And David slept. It was very quiet. It was serene and amazing.

Neurological reorganization in the Muir Woods

Can't get enough nature...

David had two sessions with Anat Baniel. Since the time we knew we were coming out here, I had been telling David about Anat. After reading her book, I was certainly looking forward to meeting her, and utterly interested in seeing what was going to happen when she got David on that table. And this is what happened. David's hips went from being spastic to being relaxed. He used his feet to push on the table and roll over smoothly. Anat blew on each of his fingers, one by one. And then he grabbed her finger, very deliberately. He did it with the other hand too. We talked about swallowing. David was listening and immediately started trying to swallow. 

I noticed how Anat wanted him to relax. David is a fighter. I think he learned to be that way early on in the hospital and in the "program."  Now he was in an environment where it was ok to play and ok to rest. In fact, she made a point to tell David to wait, and to calm down, and then he can do something else. I am still digesting all that I witnessed and learned. Anat is not frivolous with words, yet the concentration of information in what she says is immense.

Little Bids checking out his feet and hands in a most wonderful position

One night, I put David's feet on the floor and he kept them there. Usually, they flop back in to the "frog" position. He was pretty content here.

I learned new ways to hold David that encourage spinal alignment, respiration and swallowing. I also noticed that this helps him in our maneuvers to get in and out of carseats, strollers and other positions. Just like David, I felt eager to do a bunch of new stuff. But I try to take a deep breath and look, and be aware of what David is trying to do instead of what I think he needs to do (wait, sometimes I don't know what he needs to do!) or what traditional developmental expectations suggest. During David's last session, which was with Sylvia, I realized that he is developing a control over gravity. He is realizing that he can use various part of his body to position himself in relation to the world. When Sylvia lifted his shoulders, David used his elbows to propel himself forward. I can see that there are many things that David has to discover, but the fact that he is discovering them and the fact that we as parents realize he needs these discoveries is important. 

David had two sessions from Monday to Thursday. They lasted about an hour each, so on our off time, we did a little sightseeing, driving around the bay area. We visited Berkeley and Oakland. Then we explored San Francisco. Jeremy and I took David to see the famous row of houses (a.k.a. the "Full House" houses) known as the Painted Ladies, and we drove down the hairpin curves of Lombard Street. 

Reminds me of an Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina's World

Cruising around San Fran, feeling like a mountain goat

Celebrating at Absinthe, a lovely eatery recommended by a friend. Yum!

Leaving Golden Gate Bridge and heading to San Rafael

Last ABM session and David is having an easy time of sitting up in my lap.

Today was David's last day of ABM for the week, so we took a leisurely day to enjoy ourselves. We went to Pier 39 and had a late lunch. David was bundled in my scarf as it was colder than expected, and he got to see and listen to the sea lions. After the excursion on the wharf, we took a drive along the beach. 

Yay, french fries!

Sea Lions on Pier 39


Muir Beach Overlook

Today was good, and it was long. And now, everyone is asleep. On that note, I should get some shut-eye. Tomorrow we head out to Napa Valley. 


  1. I love hearing about your trip. We are planning to go in July and August. I am so excited. I will have to plan some fun things like you guys did. Where did you stay when you were there?
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in San Rafael. It is super close!