Anat Baniel – Kids Beyond Limits (2012) Pedigree
I’d like to recommend this book to anyone who’s involved in supporting the development of others, particularly children with developmental delay or other special needs. I was recommended it by a colleague who had heard about my Somatic Movement Therapy work with children. Having read it, I wanted to introduce it to others, both parents and colleagues.
Baniel, a clinical psychologist, describes her method of ‘9 Essentials’, that is informed by her work with Moshe Feldenkrais. The book is well laid out, with highlighted quotes from the main text, that emphasise concise points to enable the reader to build their understanding. There are many overlaps with the key practices I have as a Somatic Movement Therapist, and the clear and simple frameworks that Baniel offers further supports my work.
In the first section of the book Baniel describes her knowledge and understanding of how the brain works, and how she uses this to maximise the effectiveness of her approach. She highlights the focus on connecting and coming into relationship with whoever we work with, and how this is the centre of the work, rather than trying to ‘fix’ the ‘problem’.
“Whenever we ask the child with special needs to do what he cannot do, that’s the fixing paradigm in action” (Baniel 2012:20)
Also Baniel describes how working from the ground of what a child can do, rather than can’t do, offers a shift from traditional medical models.
“Any time we try to take the child away from where he currently is in terms of his present abilities, both parent and child will immediately experience the loss of connection with the other.” (Baniel 2012:26)
Baniel goes onto illustrate how it is through our ability to perceive differences that enables new neural pathways to be created. And as we can notice differences, we have more options of how to respond. She also writes about how our brains and physical body organise our experiences as one, and recounts examples of how working with the body, responding to the physical, can have an impact on our cognitive, social and emotional life too. (This Underpins Somatic Movement Therapy too).
The second section and main body of the book details ‘9 Essentials’ that Baniel has identified from her work with Feldenkrais and her wide experience. For each ‘essential’ the author offers illustrative case studies, as well as some scientific background to further the readers understanding. She concisely lists tools that can support each essential for practitioners of parents to bare in mind.
The initial 4 essentials of moving with attention; going slow; including variations; and having an awareness of subtlety are all key in my work. I have found them to be of particular relevance in offering bodywork techniques as part of my work with children with developmental delay, but can be as equally useful with adults too.
I found that the book affirmed much of my Somatic Movement Therapy Training in Integrative Bodywork & Movement Therapy (IBMT), and extended my knowledge and skills. Anat Baniel offers very clear and simple frameworks in enabling children to get the experiences that their nervous systems need, to enable greater freedom and development, and I would recommend ‘Kids Beyond Limits’ to parents and colleagues.