Emma’s Progress

Emma is nearing her second birthday and I couldn’t help but to send you a letter on her progress.  Our little angel came into this world with a long list of problems that no one would wish on their worst enemy.  She spent the first three months of her life in pediatric intensive care units and when she finally did come home prognosis was grim.  She has been diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome and some of her symptoms are peripheral neuropathy, extreme developmental delay, agenesis of the corpus callosum, feeding issues, cortical blindness, epilepsy, and GERD.   To quote some of the best neurologists in the world; “Emma is teaching us”. What a quote.  Definitely not something a parent ever wants to hear about their child; but that is the reality of special needs children.

It was about a month after she got home when I was surfing the Internet looking for answers and I came across the name Anat Baniel.  I had never heard of her but people were saying great things.  One mother’s story in particular sticks in my mind.  She was telling her story to another women on an internet support group and she spoke of her child walking without his walker after just two ABM lessons.  I was amazed.  I kept searching and inevitably found Anat on YouTube and saw the famous “Elizabeth” video. After watching, I foolishly ran to Emma and tried to imitate all the movements Anat had performed on Elizabeth.  Emma’s eyes lit with life.  I knew this was our answer.

Very often friends and family look at me with sympathetic eyes and ask me how I do it or what is it like to be a parent of a special need child.  I never really had an answer till just the other day while watching the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks.  There is scene where he finally escapes the island with his best friend Wilson (a volleyball).  The raft he has built is barely floating, his oars are just about useless, and he is at the mercy of the sea and all its fury.  He has surrendered to it all.  The wind, the waves, and the tide. His fate, Wilson’s fate, are completely unknown.  Watching this, I could not understand why I was overwhelmed with such emotion.  Then it occurred to me.  That is exactly what it feels like to be a parent of a special needs child. Every day we wake up to the unknown and it’s not until we surrender to it all that we realize that there is a path for us and our child.  Miraculously, a whale comes along and awakens Tom Hanks to the roaring sound of a passing container ship.  He has been rescued.  Well, ABM, for myself and many other parents, is that miraculous whale.  It gives us the ability to accept and surrender knowing that our child’s next miracle is over the next wave.

Emma has come a long way since her first days at home.  Many of her changes are slow and subtle and that’s exactly how we like it.  Her movement improves every day and she is a joy to be with.  There was once a time where all she would do was cry.  Now she smiles much of the day and lights up the room.  I can attribute her progress to two things.  Her family’s unconditional love and The Anat Baniel Method.

Like all parents, I feel as though I know what’s best for my children and am not particularly concerned with other people’s opinions.  However, the other day her Developmental Therapist had written such a beautiful report I had to share it.  She wrote:

“Emma seen at home with nurse present. Emma had a GREAT session. Lots of vocalization throughout the entire session and lots of smiles as well(smiley face)!”

“Sensory Play: Emma LOVED moving her fingers around in the dried pasta and dried beans. When the bin of beans/pasta was presented at her left hand, she independently picked up her right hand, moved it across midline and placed it in the sensory material (smiley face)!!!!!! She did this multiple times. ( I would move her right hand back to her right side and she would do it again.) Great job Emma?  Patty Day

Need I say more?  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  I am not one to put much emphasis on validation but I’ll let this one slide.  These are huge results and it’s even better when others are witness to them.  I’m  loving it.  Little miracles here, little ones there: Perfect.

Now when I think of the doctors comment, “Emma is teaching us”, I say they are absolutely correct.  She has taught me that I can love completely without complete understanding, that life’s possibilities are endless,  that she is my guardian angel just as much as  I am hers, and that my life would not be complete without her existence.

Love and Light,    

David Zupko


An Anat Baniel Method Student’s Amazing results

I’m currently in the Anat Baniel Method Professional Training.  I have only completed six out of ten training segments and I just wanted to share what this Method accomplished two weeks ago.

I’ve been practicing on my sister-in-law who has a weakened leg from polio she had as an infant.  (She was one of the last people in this country to contract polio.)   She wears a brace on that leg and foot.  The ankle on that foot is distorted and turns her foot to an extreme outside angle.  As she walks, she briefly transfers weight to her right leg, but otherwise it has always skittered behind her, more or less.

Just because I was eager to practice Segment 6 techniques and because she is a  willing guinea pig, I worked on her weakened foot and leg while she was on her belly.  I certainly did not expect anything to happen to her polio-affected leg.  When I lifted that leg afterward, however, it was nearly as heavy as her good leg.   Every other time I’ve lifted it, it was a light as a feather. 

She said that she felt connected to that leg for the first time in her life!  Ever since that day, she’s been feeling connected to and using her right leg more.  For example, without thinking, she put her right leg on a step and transferred her full weight to it in going down steps without a railing. Someone commented to her that she looked more “squared” in her movement.  It was a wonderful, very dramatic experience for her.


Move Into Life 2-day Workshop


Transform pain, limitation and aging into strength, flexibility, stamina and mental clarity

2-day Workshop


JUNE 19-20, 2010

Experience the power of your brain to transform your life!

Date:  June 19-20, 2010

Location:  the Anat Baniel Method Center, 4330 Redwood Hwy, #350, San Rafael, CA  94903

Information:  Mike – mike@anatbanielmethod.com  415.847-8887

Cost:  $375 

Appreciation Program:  For every person you refer who takes the workshop and is not already in our database, receive $50 – please have the person who enrolls give us your name.

Christopher’s Story

Our son Christopher was born in April of 2005. He was a beautiful, healthy baby and we were overjoyed to welcome him to our family.

However, early on we suspected something was different about Christopher. He is our second child, and thankfully we had our daughter’s development as our guidepost. His eyes seemed to roll around and he didn’t appear to focus on anything. At his eight-week visit, the pediatrician agreed Christopher needed to be seen by both a pediatric ophthalmologist and pediatric neurologist. Both specialists did extensive diagnostic testing but neither could find anything abnormal with his brain or eyes.


At around this time, he began showing signs of developmental delay. He began physical therapy at around 11 weeks old. At first, Christopher didn’t seem to mind physical therapy. He was a very passive baby. However, by about five months of age he started crying during his therapy sessions. It got progressively worse to point that he would begin wailing at the sound of the physical therapist’s voice. He wasn’t really making any progress and we were getting more and more frustrated.

At six months old, an ophthalmologist told us Christopher’s eyes were structurally fine, but he was blind and would need to learn Braille and would walk with a cane. We left that appointment and switched to a new ophthalmologist, believing the prognosis underestimated the potential of his brain to form new connections.


Despite the dismal predictions, we remained hopeful for Christopher’s future in large part because of a both an acupuncturist and a cranial sacral osteopath. To our good fortune, we had begun working with them both when Christopher was about 4 months old. They saw a bright future for Christopher. The D.O. suggested we begin working with a Feldenkrais practitioner in his office who was in the process of completing training in the Anat Baniel MethodSM (ABM) for Children. We agreed to see her and were completely amazed at how happy he was with his lesson. He never once cried. Quite to the contrary, he laughed and squealed with delight. Even more amazing, after his second lesson, at ten months old, Christopher rolled from his back to his stomach, something never accomplished through physical therapy. We would soon be celebrating his first birthday and imagine our joy at his accomplishing this developmental milestone.


Additionally, we saw a playful, curious person emerging in Christopher. He began reaching for toys, touching our faces, and interacting in the world. It was then that we realized he was an incredibly bright child.


While we were delighted in his progress, we felt pressure to continue with physical therapy. He was still very delayed in his gross motor skill development and we were being told he needed to be placed in upright positions. But, when placed in sitting or in a stander, he would wail. It was just too painful to see him so upset. We found ourselves questioning what was right for Christopher. We ultimately decided to stop physical therapy and only pursue ABM lessons. It was a stressful process to get to that point, but it left us with peace once we made the decision.


We began augmenting his lessons with other Anat Baniel MethodSM for Children practitioners in Michigan and California. We watched him learn to get into sitting,  “commando” crawl to get toys, play with his sister and dog, and cruise anywhere else his curiosity would take him. While crawling and bear walking are still his preferred method of movement, he can walk with assistance. His vision has also drastically improved. He is far from blind!


During the first three years of his life, Christopher received home visits from therapists and teachers through our county’s Early On program. All of these wonderful people were so committed to his development and progress.

Christopher has also had lessons with Anat and enjoys learning from her. We are amazed at how happy he is during his lessons and the changes we see during and after them.

In addition to ABM lessons, Christopher works with an amazing speech therapist and attends preschool three days a week. We give thanks that he is cognitively intact and is a healthy and happy child.


We realize our journey with Christopher is progressing at a slower-pace than that of other children his age, but we are blessed to have such talented and dedicated practitioners, as well as loving and supportive family and friends as travel companions. There are so many people who have touched our lives and we will never be able to thank them. But we think of them often as we see our child thrive.

As Anat said, and we fully believe, “Christopher will lead a fulfilled life.” He already does!


Christopher’s story and the progress he has made have compelled us to become ABM practitioners. We want to offer the hope and possibilities to families of children with special needs to achieve what might otherwise seem out of reach.