Saturday, April 30, 2016

Parenting Pointers: Movement Method of Teaching Autists

The Long Ride Home  was written by a father detailing the healing journeys he and his son took to relieve some of the effects of his autism. He also discusses how the Movement Method helped educate his son - and others. I had a chance to interview him to learn more.
Why did you originally go on the first trip?
It was a combination of several things: first I noticed how much better my son did outside in the woods behind our house, moving in nature - far fewer tantrums, much more engaged. He found his way to my neighbor's quarter horse mare Betsy, and the relationship between them was so instantaneous and so profound. When Rowan would lie on her back all his 'stimming' (rocking, flapping, chanting) would stop and i had this super calm kid. The first day I rode Betsy with rowan in the saddle my non verbal son began using expressive language. That same year, I had to bring - for my job as journalist and human rights activist - a delegation of bushman hunter-gatherers from Botswana to the UN and State Department. Some of the guys on that delegation were trained healers in their own culture and offered to work on Rowan. To my amazement he lost some of his more obsessive symptoms while with them. Where is there a place on the planet that combines the two (healers and horses)? Mongolia. And the adventure began.
How did this trip have such a profound impact on your son?
The results were astonishing - Rowan went out autistic and came back autistic but his three key dysfunctions - his incontinence, tantrumming and inability to make friends - these he left behind in Mongolia. The last shaman to work on him told me I'd have to do three more healings to confirm the healing - The Long ride Home tells the story of those three subsequent journeys for healing: in Africa, Australia, and on the Navajo reservation here in the USA - and finally following Rowan as he began his own journeys tracking endangered and dangerous animals around the world - bears in the forests of Transylvania in Romania, Orcas off the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest and more. At the same time, I had noticed that when at home, that certain kinds of movement - usually rhythmic rocking and balancing movements - got the best results for communication and learning. We opened a small center doing first equine therapy based on these kinds of movements, and then more general therapy and education and before we knew it we had something called Movement Method, a six-stage kinetic learning technique, which we now do in 13 countries - both special ed and general ed.
What are the benefits of the Movement Method?
It's very simple - there are certain kinds of movement that activate the learning centers of the brain. rhythmic ricking of the pelvis (eg on a horse or on a swing) causes the body to create the feel-good and communication hormone oxytocin, which calms stress and ameliorates sensory issues. Then when you add balancing and climbing movements you stimulate the cerebellum, and cause it to produce millions of what are known as 'purkinje cells' - which are the circuits within the brain that get the different parts of the brain to communicate properly. Any balancing and rocking motions activate the vestibular system in the inner ear, which deal with balance but more importantly, attention. So the child, or adult is now in the ideal position to receive but more importantly to retain, keep information. In Movement Method we have easy curricula and courses which parents and professionals can download from our website for cheap, which enable them to start teaching very very effectively while having all sorts of fun - the kids often have no idea they are learning, even when doing higher math, let alone the more basic literacy and numeracy. its amazing how simple it is to do.
How can parents learn more and bring the benefits of this method home?
The Long Ride Home tells the story of how we evolved Movement Method and how we apply it on a day to day basis. And our website has the basic course that parents can do at home, and we are adding other downloadable curricula all the time. the two websites are:  for the book and for the online course and downloadable modules

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