Monday, April 09, 2012

Essential Three: Variation, examples with special needs children, And this is food from Freedom for all us adults

Variation on what to do with the left hand. Notice how attentive Harper is.

Once, when working with a boy who seemed to have a habit of getting
into a funk
and whining and clinging to his mother,
I stopped trying to work on anything else,
stopped hoping or attempting to distract him to
"more important" learning, and focused in on the whining.

I asked him to raise his pitch, giving him an example.

I asked him to lower the pitch of the whining, giving another example.

I asked for the whining to come in burst of two, and in patterns of three.

I asked for louder.

I asked for softer.

He was game for all of this, and the whining became a game to him.

When I mentioned this latter to Anat, she commented that until we'd brought
variation into the picture, he may well have had no idea that the whining was his action.

Once we made a game of it, and gave his action lots of variations he could control,
his distress went away,
his pleasure in life went up,
and his brain got back on the track of being a learning organism.

He could tell the differences.
He could make the differences.
He made a difference from his awareness and his choosing different actions.

In another case I'll always remember, Anat was supervising about 6 different student practitioners, who had taken 10 basic segments of training, and now where on their first Special Needs Children segment.

On one of the tables, an autistic boy was busy throwing this and throwing that, clearly just working out .....? Who knows what.

Anat came by the table and asked him to make choices: did he want to throw the toy dog, or the ball off the table? Did he want to throw the book or the truck?

And so on.

This satisfied and calmed the young man, and after that, Anat advised the student practitioner to work slowly, and verbalize each action she was doing: "Now I am moving your arm, holding your elbow." "Now I am moving your leg, holding your foot. I am rotating it this way and that way."

That was all for the rest of the thirty minutes.

The child went home and apparently verbalized in ways that he never had before.


In Anat Baniel's new book: Kids Beyond Limits

Anat very clearly not only explains:

One: research with rats and with humans (learning the game of Go), that supports Variation as the key to improving the brain and improving the learning.

Two: gives an inspiring example of a small boy who came to her essentially trapped in his conditioning after many months in a full body cast.

Three: gives examples of playing / learning games parents can use with their children to increase the enjoyment of their interaction, and the quality of their child's brain (and the movement, too, as the by product)

Clues us in to some valuable concepts we can use in our own lives, as we as helping the children:

Such as: (And these are in bold in the book, too)

Think of your child's mistakes as a wonderfully rich source of Variation
(And therefore, never correct mistakes. Use them as jumping boards for more and easier and more fun learning.)

Without light the eyes cannot see. Without Variation the brain cannot learn or organize action very well. 


In Anat's article for Massage Therapy magazine,
called New Possibilities: A revolutionary approach to special needs children

Anat says this about variation:

"The more new variations the child experiences, the better and faster his brain can differentiate and form new solutions. The child learns how to learn. Without variation, we starve the brain of the new information it craves, no matter how hard the practitioner and child try, the outcomes will be very limited until you provide these variations. If the child is unable to do what the practitioner is trying to have him do, then something new needs to be introduced. If the child can already do what you are offering, it is time to move the child forward into his next level of functioning"

The chapter in her book says plenty more, but I can't copy it off the Internet so at $10.88 from Amazon, I'd recommend getting three copies, one for one and the other two for grandparents, or OT, PT, caregivers, anyone who comes to your child and would love to know how to be far more helpful, and how to stop unintentional strategies that are actually hindering your child's learning.

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