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

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