Brain Plasticity Brings New Hope to Children on the Autism Spectrum

Brain Plasticity Brings New Hope to Children on the Autism Spectrum

If you are a parent to a child on the Autism Spectrum, you most likely have seen your child improve, at least somewhat, through therapy and through your own efforts to help your child. At the same time you know the depth of the mystery of your child’s condition and the frequent feelings of helplessness that may come over you.

One of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made over thirty years of working with children suffering from autism and from other conditions is that the brains of these children can change and become better and stronger brains that are capable of learning and overcoming limitation in remarkable ways.

The brain is an information system. It is the CEO of us. It organizes all of our movements, thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. The job of the brain is to put order in the disorder and turn the constant flood of stimulation that’s coming in from the outside and the inside, into useful information. The brains of children suffering from autism seem to have a difficult time organizing perceptions and actions and making sense of themselves and the world around them.

What is often overlooked is that the source of information for the brain is through the perception of differences. It is not until a child feels and perceives a difference, be it in what they hear, see, smell, or feel in the movement of their body, that their brain “gets” that this difference and the distinct components creating the difference are there. You and I may clearly hear the difference between different sounds and words, such as ‘water’, ‘wagon’ and ‘warm’. But if it all sounds like ‘bzrrrwmasnnnzzzzz’ to the child, he or she will be unable to decipher what you’re attempting to communicate. It’s all just noise.

I’ve observed that children on the autism spectrum whom I’ve worked with were all challenged in their ability to perceive differences. What I also found is that when provided with the right conditions, these children were able to perceive differences they didn’t perceive before and began changing for the better right away.

Each of the Nine Essentials of the Anat Baniel Method wake up the brain, increasing its ability to perceive differences, and be able to learn skills that seemed unattainable before. I suggest that you try the following three Essentials with your child in your daily life. When you do, see if you can observe improvements in your child’s movement, coordination, thinking, behavior or mood. It is important that you notice small changes, not only the big ones:

  1. Movement With Attention: Movement is the “language” of the brain. It helps the brain grow and form. But automatic, or passive movement brings little change in the brain. When the child is attentive to what they feel as they move – their brain begins forming new connections at a staggering rapid rate, which it can integrate as new learning. Find at least four or five times during the day when you help your child feel themselves as they move. You can do it by describing their movements as they’re happening, or by moving your child gently and slowly and being very attentive to the feelings you have while you move them.
  2. Slow: Fast, the brain can only do what it already knows. Slow gets the brain’s attention and provides the time for the child to feel themselves and for the brain, once again, to notice differences and get new information to work with. Whenever you observe that your child has a difficulty or seems to “not get it”, see if you can slow him or her way down as you slow yourself down. This change alone can bring about remarkable transformations.
  3. Variation: That means instead of trying to have your child do things the “right way”, guide your child to make lots of mistakes — to do the same thing in many different ways. That provides the brain with lots of opportunity to perceive differences and get the information it needs.

To learn more about the Anat Baniel Method and the Nine Essentials and watch videos of our work with children go to our website:

Anat Baniel will be holding a Mini Workshop in Los Angeles May 5th at the Marriot Airport Hotel. Tickets are $40 and you receive a copy of her book and 2 day Parent workshop. For more information please visit

Photo by jurveston

About Author