My daughter, Selah, is 6 years old and was diagnosed with mild/moderate spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy when she was 12 months old. Her CP has affected her speech, fine, gross motor and cognitive function. We started lessons with Jon Martinez the spring of 2014. I had learned about ABM from a friend after observing her son make some amazing progress and I was curious to see if this method would give better results than the traditional therapies we had been doing since Selah was 6 months old.
The first lesson we had with Jon was a real eye opener. He asked me to tell him about Selah and I immediately started listing out all of her problem areas. After 4½ years of traditional therapy — Speech, Occupational, Physical and Developmental — I was very aware of everything my daughter was unable to do as compared to her peers. After listening to my list, Jon stopped me and said something that I had never been asked by any of Selah’s therapists, “What is she doing well?” To this day I almost cry when I think about that question because I could not give him a single example. That, in my mind, is one of the biggest differences between the Anat Baniel Method and traditional therapy. It has been such a relief to focus on her successes, which have been huge since starting to work with Jon, rather than dwelling on what she isn’t doing.
Selah was unable to sit without falling over when we first started with Jon. Now 2 years later, she no longer uses braces or a walker. She has much better balance when sitting, standing and walking. I am seeing her move in different ways with more variations in her movements. Probably the biggest area of improvement has been in her cognitive function. We went into kindergarten this year with the expectation that she may not be able to keep up with her peers academically. She is not only keeping up with her peers but actually exceeding grade level expectations.
Jon encourages us to think outside the box when working with Selah. I enjoy watching him at lessons because he never tries to force her to do what he thinks she should be doing. Instead he will structure the lesson around what captures her attention, avoiding any potential power struggles, with the result that much more is accomplished.
My biggest regret is that we did not know about ABM until Selah was 4. The whole approach that Jon uses just makes so much sense to me and the results that we are seeing with Selah are amazing. In all honesty, some of the biggest changes I have experienced are in myself, my mindset, and my awareness of how the body moves. Because I am starting to perceive and feel things differently, I am better able to see the small and big changes happening with Selah. I would recommend ABM lessons to anyone!
When our son was 5 months old, he was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy called Infantile Spasms. Since being on so many medications and suffering through countless seizures, it has caused him to be delayed. I stayed up late one night researching therapies and came across a video of Jon working with a child that had the same diagnosis as our son. After seeing the improvements that child made on the video as well as talking to the family, I knew that we had to try ABM and see Jon.
We started going to Jon in October 2015 when our son was 15 months old and have had 3 blocks of lessons with him thus far. From the first time our son Marek met with Jon, I knew that we had made the right decision. Marek does not handle traditional physical/occupation therapy very well. Many times he cries through the entire hour with his therapists. This does not happen while working with Jon during his ABM lessons. Jon has a way of connecting with our son. Through working with Marek, Jon has come to understand his comfort level and knows when he can challenge our son and where his breaking point is. I love watching Marek during his lessons because he enjoys working with Jon and I can see how excited he gets when he accomplishes new things.
It is now 4 months later and Marek has started to babble using consonants, he is much more aware and interested in his surroundings, and his strength and tone has improved. He has started army crawling and pivoting on his tummy and is now transitioning from floor to sitting. We travel once a month from St. Louis to see Jon and every time we leave our sessions we see our son meet new milestones. Jon is a very talented, passionate, and caring ABM practitioner. He takes the time to explain what he is doing and teaches me how I can help our son when we return home. We are very thankful that we have found Jon and we owe many of our son’s new abilities to him and the ABM work.
Kiarra was two and a half when we started doing ABM. She has Joubert Syndrome and was in a program called First Steps where she received PT, OT, and Speech before we came to Jon. She would scream through therapy, I always dreaded it. She would sit with her legs wide open but if she fell over she couldn't get back up. She also held her head to one side. Her OT told us she would probably never walk.
Fast forward four years and I'm so happy to say she is walking, well actually she likes to run!!! After taking her first steps in Jon's office, she told him “bye” and wanted to leave. She felt so accomplished!! She talks, says anything she wants, and eats all by herself. She is six and has just started writing her name!
She has come so far in the past four years, for which I want to thank God and Jon. We love ABM and highly recommend it. Thank you Jon for all the lessons you've given Kiarra. You work very well with her and when she doesn't like something you find ways to work around it.
Our son, Emmett, was diagnosed with hypotonia at 8 months of age and started traditional therapy shortly thereafter. One year later, he had made some progress, but was still delayed in all areas. At that time, Emmett could sit up with assistance and roll. He could bear weight in his legs, but wouldn't stay on his tummy or attempt to crawl. He had very inconsistent eye contact and limited fine motor skills. He also tended to hyperextend his legs and use his right side more than his left. We had heard about the Anat Baniel Method from an online support group and decided to do a block of lessons when Emmett was 22 months old.
We could see progress almost immediately. Others noticed the changes in Emmett too, even those who had no idea we had tried ABM. He had better eye contact, a longer attention span, and was more observant. His body movements were also more organized and more deliberate.
We continued to see similar results after each block of lessons. We have had 5 blocks of lessons in the past 8 months. In this time, Emmett has learned to transition to all positions on his own, crawl, pull up to stand, and cruise. He is bending his arms and legs much more and he is using both sides of his body more effectively. His eye contact and interactions with others is better. His feeding and fine motor skills have improved. He has better balance and has faster reflexes.
Since we started ABM with Jon, Emmett is more in tune with himself and with the world around him. We believe that Jon has helped Emmett "put the pieces together" and reach his full potential. We are so thankful that we found ABM and look forward to seeing what the future holds.
My daughter Mary was born with a rare brain malformation called lissencephaly which left her severely mentally and physically impaired. Her prognosis was that she would never walk or talk. From the age of two months to August of last year at three years old, she received a great deal of therapy from some wonderful and patient people. She made amazing progress and developed skills unusual for her condition such as sitting, eating by mouth, scooting on her bottom, holding objects and saying words.
When we started ABM lessons with Jon Martinez, it was like her learning was supercharged! Her language went from random words to two and three-word sentences. She is now able to communicate with others instead of us translating for her. Her awareness of her surroundings and her ability to focus has sharpened. She is able to pull herself up to her knees and take steps while holding ballet rails. She can now feed herself without assistance, answer direct questions, knows the names of her family, teachers, and peers at preschool. She even shows a sense of humor.
It is like she is fully awake after a long sleep. Everyone who knows Mary can’t wait to see what she will do next, now that she is a super learner!
We first heard about ABM and Jon Martinez from a colleague of mine. I was referred to ABM for my ten year old son, diagnosed with cerebral palsy. We did not know much about it when we went to our first intensive session. After the first lesson, I realized that this approach was something new and exciting. Jon met my son where he was at, looked at what his capabilities were, and what his interest was in developing new skills. That idea was profound.
We enter into a simple treatment room with a basic concept, but with a very artistic and beautiful set of movements that are individual to each child. It is a calming philosophy without involving lots of rigorous routines and pain.
In the short amount of time that we have decided to change to this new direction, we have eschewed traditional therapy for the most part. We did this with some trepidation, but it did not take us long to realize that my son was happier, freer, and more open to creativity. He was more open to new possibilities than he had been the previous eight years.
His progress has been great in just one year of ABM with Jon. He has come to sitting on his own and started crawling. His awareness, desire to speak, following of conversation, imaginative exploration of his environment have all expanded. His gross, fine motor and speech have all improved--and he is happier!
Jon Martinez has charisma and passion for helping people, especially children. He has been invigorating and energizing, not only to my son, but my entire family. Jon has given us hope and made us look at my son in a different way.
Dr. Leslie Bentinganan,
IU Health Family Physician
Our son Matthew was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy at 2 ½ years of age. He had been attending traditional physical and occupational therapies since he was 6 months of age. He had made some progress initially, but the past year brought no progression. This is when I started researching for alternative therapies for cerebral palsy, found out about ABM, and came into contact with Jon. Upon researching ABM, my husband and I were extremely hopeful and yet afraid to get our hopes up.
Upon first meeting Jon our son was 2 ½ years old. He mainly liked to be in an upright sitting position. He had just learned to butt scoot. He could not get himself into a sitting positon on his own, nor could he lie down from a sitting position. He also could not roll over completely. He had a 20 to 30 word vocabulary.
We have now been visiting Jon for 8 months. Our son Matthew is consistently crawling, pulling himself to standing without assistance, cruising, and climbing up and down stairs. He is able to climb step stools to wash his hands, bear crawl, and feed himself with a spoon. His vocabulary is somewhere in the 200 range. Matthew has also most recently initiated potty training with much success!
We are forever thankful for finding Jon and ABM. We discontinued PT/OT after our first cluster of lessons, and have not regretted it for one second. Our only regret is not finding ABM sooner. With much heartfelt love.
The Combs Family
My daughter, Morgan, was four years old when we started seeing Jon for ABM. I was made aware of this method from another parent in a mutual support group. At that time, Morgan was crawling, pulling to stand, knee walking, and occasionally cruising. She had very little balance and would often fall backwards. Eye contact and focus were very limited. She had a very frantic demeanor and bounced on her knees frequently. Her head tilted to the left. She had defensiveness in her hands and would not allow hand over hand activity. She would use her hands as clubs. We had used traditional PT and OT since the age of seven months. After Morgan's first appointment with Jon, she started using her fingertips to activate buttons on toys.
After approximately six months of ABM, we have achieved much success. She has a very soft and controlled reach, and her hand skills continue to improve. Her eye contact and focus have improved dramatically. Overall, she is much calmer. Her head tilt has decreased significantly. She is starting to make new sounds and can shake her head yes and no. She has begun to climb stairs and use stools for climbing. Her balance has improved dramatically. She is spending more time unsupported on her feet. For the first time yesterday, she took eight consecutive steps.
Morgan's hand use improved more in one ABM lesson than it had in four years of OT. Improvements have been steady throughout six months of visits. Jon has a real knack for working with children and I would recommend Jon Martinez and the ABM approach to any parent.