Section: Babies & Children
Making Every Moment Count
What do the children with special needs who receive Feldenkrais® lessons do for the rest of their day, week, month, and year? How much of a difference does it make when their parents are helped to be their children’s primary agents of change? How can children with special needs experience what their peers experience so that they can gradually learn what their peers learn so quickly and effortlessly? How are children with special needs different from their peers anyway?

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Empowered through TransformAction
Pain can become a familiar friend, creating focus and meaning in lives. I have deep respect for pain as not so long ago it was my best buddy.

It had taken months for Carol Ann Clouston to tempt me to attend her Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® class. I lived in Cairo, Egypt. I was in so much pain that some days I could barely think.

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How the Feldenkrais Method can Benefit Children with Autism
Parents are often surprised and confused to hear that the Feldenkrais Method--a system of movement education--can be helpful for children with autism. If their child does not have visible motor skill delays, they cannot see why improving their movement is necessary, nor why it would impact a condition that is primarily social and behavioral.

Although Feldenkrais Practitioners could never claim to "cure" autism, we are able to help with many of the symptoms of autism that contribute to family, academic, and social stress.

Three ways the Feldenkrais Method can help those with autism:

1. Sensory processing challenges
2. Meltdowns, tantrums, and emotional overwhelm
3. Repetitive Behavior

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Moving Beyond Limits: Children with Autism
I have been teaching the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education since February 2007. Initially, I had no intention of working with children. My background was in Pilates, aerobics, and weight lifting; I was interested in working with anti aging and elite athletes. Little did I know, I would fall in love with working with youngsters during my training. Since then, I have worked with a number of children on the autism spectrum, as well as those with other neurological concerns.

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Sean, Who Learned to be Tall
A charming six year-old, Sean had bright red hair, twinkling green eyes and a spray of freckles. This solid little boy reminded me of Garrison Keillor's description of his home town "where all the children are above average." Sean had been born with a marked kyphosis, or a humped back. With guilty insight, his mother confided that she feared marital arguments had traumatized Sean during her pregnancy. I invited Anne to stay in the room as her son climbed onto the table.

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The Feldenkrais Method with Atypical Children
For the past several years, Feldenkrais Practitioner, Linda Flanders, has been working with atypical children; those who have complex learning and behavioral problems which traditional therapies have not been able to help.

"All of our children have psychiatric diagnoses and come from some sort of abusive past," says, Linda. "We work through the behaviors first and then sort out the educational problems. I primarily use Awareness Through Movement lessons until I gain enough trust with the child to get them on the table for a Functional Integration lesson."

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Compassion & Balance Inside & Out
There's a paradigm shift happening today. More and more people are realizing we "think" with our bodies. This shift recognizes the power of learning from inside and not just our heads.

For over 100 years, education has focused on teaching from our heads. Now a revolutionary look at how the body helps children understand information is coming alive in schools.

Our bodies are one big sense organ developing memory and perception. Ken Robinson reminds educational specialists, "A good deal of brain activity is not apparent to the conscious mind. Much of its work is a silent traffic with the rest of the body’s automatic functioning…" (Robinson, 2001, p. 99). Children prove this fact.

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Creative Learning Through Movement with Children
Through movement we experience our world. Long before verbal and cognitive development take center stage, we learn through our actions, through how we react to and interact with our environment and ourselves. By using movement as a vehicle for learning, we not only tap into these early learning patterns, but also into inherited ancient evolutionary patterns. This makes movement a potent and powerful learning tool.

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An Interview with Anat Baniel
Anat Baniel is world-renowned for her Feldenkrais work with children. In this interview, she clarifies many questions about the Feldenkrais work with children. Following the interview, Anat shows us through Adam's Story how children enjoy Feldenkrais work.

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Enhancing Childrens' Self-Awareness
For the past several years, Feldenkrais practitioner Donna Ray-Reese has had the good fortune of teaching Awareness Through Movement lessons to preschoolers through fifth graders on a regular basis. In addition to teaching 15 to 30 children at a time in their classrooms, Donna has taught small groups at the Reese Movement Institute where she maintains her private practice.
The Feldenkrais Method for Children with Cerebral Palsy
The first scholarly research paper on the use of the Feldenkrais Method with children was written by Chava Selhav Silberbush in 1987. This was her thesis for her Masters in Education from Boston University in 1987.

Chava identified several ways in which the Feldenkrais Method develops neurological functioning for individuals who were not able to develop these functions in a natural way due to the disorder. First, a Feldenkrais practitioner interacts with the whole being of the child, observing and responding to the developmental, emotional and social needs of the child.
Waking Up James
When I first met seven-year-old James, he showed definite signs of autistic behavior: no eye contact, random speech, inability to answer "yes" or "no" appropriately. He did not use pronouns, including "I." He would aggressively thrust his fingers at people, and pull toys apart with those same intense finger movements.
Stress at an Early Age
We have created and now live in a fast paced technological world. Our children are taught about computers as early as elementary school, and the speed of computers doubles every 18 months.

More and more children are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other learning difficulties. They have short attention spans and are easily distracted. Often they run into behavioral difficulties and are on medication or have tried different types of behavioral modification.
Stimulating Behavioral Changes in Children
When I first met Enrique, a cute three year old boy, he stood by the doorway, tilted his chin downward, moved his eyes upward and growled at me. He wanted to play with a simple shape sorter. However Enrique had difficulty focusing, manipulating and matching the objects. He sat on his heels, leaned on one hand, and would not let go of one shape until another was given to him. Enrique required redirection to the sorting activity every 5-15 seconds. When it was time to put toys away, he cried and flung himself on the floor. In order to calm him, his mother quickly gave her son another object to hold.
Learning to Crawl
Most new parents hope and assume their infant will navigate successfully through all the normal developmental phases--rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. But what if they don't?

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The Toddler in the Shower
Next to me at the swimming pool shower is a little girl, about 18 months old. She is a tiny child, blond, with thin wet hair plastered over her scalp, wearing a pink bathing suit. She is turning and allowing the warm water to cascade onto her back, her front, then on the top of her head, closing her eyes just at the right time to keep from getting water in them. Lifting her arms to feel the rush of water at her right side, her left side. Completely absorbed.
Developing the Whole Child
Feldenkrais practitioner Kathy Yates vividly remembers the first time she heard one of her young students with special needs talk. The child turned to her mother during her Feldenkrais lesson and asked: "Can I do this every day?" For children who have been through a variety of therapeutic interventions which they did not enjoy, the Feldenkrais Method is a revelation--as it is for their parents.

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Rolling with Possibility
I. Options for those living with autism

Autism is not well understood, and those living with autism have limited options for care and support within the public infrastructure. Jay Kolls, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, writes that Autism affects 1 in 150 children. Paul Offit, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, acknowledges the perseverance and hard work of most autistic children and the incredible achievements of their families. Seeing these incredible achievements firsthand, Feldenkrais practitioners are inspired by the families who bring their autistic children for lessons.

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