Lily's Journey and ABM

Today Lily is a chubby, smiling and happy girl who loves music, animals and adores her older brother Noah. She enjoys exploring new places, playing with other children, walking, climbing and gliding down slides. But there was a time when we were not sure if all of this would ever be possible. Eighteen months ago she was inches away from having a feeding tube, could not sit unsupported and was diagnosed as severely autistic.

Lily was born on September 23rd 2013. She appeared to be a healthy little girl – smiling early, catching her toes and appeared to develop normally up to the age of 6 months old.

First Red Flags

Then things changed. When we tried weaning her onto solid food she became distressed. Lily avoided touching food and was unable to swallow.

By 10 months Lily got behind in reaching her developmental milestones. She was still exclusively breastfed while now refusing the bottle. Unable to sit unsupported, did not babble, imitate or gesture.  Her motor development and communication skills had plateaued.

It became obvious that something was not right. She did not eat, move, or talk at an age appropriate level.

Pediatricians recommended waiting until Lily was one-year old to get a hearing test. However we became  increasingly concerned and demanded a hearing test immediately as well as referrals to feeding and developmental specialists.

Hearing and eye exams came back normal and on our second visit with a neurologist at Brussels University Hospital we were told that something was not quite right with Lily - and that her future was uncertain.

Suddenly the possible trajectories of Lily’s life were transformed. Over the next months Lily saw a myriad of neurologists and specialists in several hospitals. She was tested for many genetic and degenerative diseases.

We were relieved when the results of the EEG, MRI and genetic testing showed no abnormalities.

Developmental Delay

No cause was found but Lily still struggled to meet her milestones. After several assessments she was diagnosed with a developmental delay and peripheral autistic characteristics.

At 16 months old Lily could barely sit unsupported and had lost weight, still being exclusively breastfed. Doctors strongly suggested a feeding tube.

With the help of Dr. Google, I found a medication that helped increase my milk production. It worked. Lily started getting enough milk and we had more time to teach her how to accept food.

For the next 7 months Lily received Feeding, Physical and Occupational Therapy, and a plethora of other therapies and therapists were tried.  

All the therapies were ineffective. Lily cried during Physical therapy and refused to participate. At home she was not motivated to move. It seemed as if she was not aware that movement was even possible. 

Finally when Lily was 18 months old I came across “Children Beyond Limits” and discovered the Anat Baniel Method (ABM). The theory made sense to me and I took Lily to the only practitioner in Belgium.

This was a turning point. Lily made more progress within ten days of starting ABM then after seven months of daily traditional therapy.

Lily began transitioning to other positions (like sitting and crawling position) and pulled herself up to standing for the first time.

A month later she was crawling and cruising and the next month, to our huge relief, she began to eat. Lily has stopped traditional therapies and continues to make progress with ABM.

ABM opened up possibilities for Lily and her progress continues to positively surprise specialists and doctors. Her Autism diagnosis went from severe to moderate a year ago and her sensory aversions are gone.

Each cluster of ABM lessons brings more progress in cognitive, motor and communication skills. In addition there are always small changes that happen during or right after the lessons.

  • Since a cluster of lessons Lily no longer fears bath time. She now adores splashing in water and washing her hair.
  • After the last cluster of six ABM lessons Lily started saying “m” and “n” for the first time and is now making a myriad of new sounds.

Lily is now:

  • Walking and climbing
  • Imitating and using imaginative play
  • Babbling and chattering (a lot!)
  • Communicating with sounds and gestures

Her her food aversion is gone and she is now a ferocious foodie.

Today Lily is cautious and curious, careful and brave, playful and thoughtful. She will continue to need ABM lessons for the coming years and I wish to help her as an ABM practitioner.

Seeing the difference ABM made to Lily and other children's lives has inspired me to take the ABM practitioner training. I’m determined to help create new possibilities for special needs children and give them the best possible quality of life.

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