Monday, April 07, 2014

Let's ReRead Kids Beyond LImits: Brain Plasticity and Children

I'm going to get back to my weekly blog posts on my special needs children blog, 
it's at

I'll be going through Anat's book, chapter or section by chapter or section at a time.

Here's the start

In the introduction to Kids Beyond Limits, Michael Merzenich, PhD, makes clear his profound admiration for Anat Baniel and his delight and astonishment that in her own separate way, she has come to discover BRAIN PLASTICITY (his field of expertise, he was one of the first to discover and prove this in monkeys, and then humans) as the key element to human change, especially change in special needs children.

Brain Plasticity.

Our brains can rewire.
They are meant to rewire.
They love to rewire.

Dr. Merzenich discovered this in the laboratory. Anat in her work with thousands of children over 30 years.

Dr. Merzenich makes two points of emphasis:
One: The principles that underlie the limitations of the “special needs child” are the same principles that underlie brain plasticity.
Two: Most so called “hopeless” cases, aren’t hopeless.

Then in Anat’s introduction, she gives her urgent framework. This work has transformed, again and again, the lives of many children. She wants to get the principles, what she calls the Nine Essentials, out to as many parents, caregivers and clinicians as possible.

She wants the “secret” to stop being a secret.

And it isn’t really a secret as much a waking up to the understanding that her mentor Moshe Feldenkrais, a PhD in physics and the first European teacher of Judo, brought to improving movement for adults and children.

Movement is about learning.
Movement is about awareness.
The brain is where both these happen.

“Miracles” begin to happen when we stop buying into anyone being fixed in their movement or their behavior. (This includes ourselves).

Anat then brings her story to open with the story of Elizabeth.
 ( There is a moving  7 minute PBS video of this, back when Anat was still within the Feldenkrais world, and hadn’t felt yet, because it the constraints in the Feldenkrais world), the need to create her own sperate (and more advanced, to my mind) method. The video is at Healing What the Doctors Couldn't )

She starts her story with her first meeting with Elizabeth. She didn’t plan it, but everything started with her own desire to calm the crying Elizabeth when she was first brought to Dr. Feldenkrais ( to say nothing, which she doesn’t mention in the book, of her considerable touch and awareness based skills having studied with Feldenkrais for 4 years), she discovered how profound an experience life could provide when she looked beneath Elizabeth’s real and profound limitations and saw, really saw, the person, the real and amazing person locked inside these limitations.

She then shares how much Elizabeth transformed in the first two lessons with Moshe Feldenkrais’ intentional and highly skilled touch. How Elizabeth began to wake up to herself and her body, and began to play for the first time in her life.

Fast forward to seven years old and Anat plays with a tissue, and Elizabeth learns not only how to catch, but to walk.

Brains learn.
People transform.
Beginning of the story.

And, how can we rewire our brains today?
How can we help our children?

(Read ahead in the book for answers to both.
Go to my blog ( , and search for a “Movement lesson” you like, and you can spend 5 or 10 minutes rewiring your own brain, right now.
Here’s the link straight to a series of at least 30 lessons that could delightfully help you feel easier in your body and smarter in your brain.

And if you want more on Brain Plasticity from Dr, Merzenich, here’s a TED talk Merzenich on Brain Plasticity

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