As a parent of a special needs child, one major goal is to elicit your child to “learn”, and as the parent, recognize and support that learning.

Anat Baniel, the founder and director of the Anat Baniel Method (also known as ABM and NeuroMovement), wrote a wonderful book called Kids Beyond Limits. The book details what she calls the “Nine Essentials” and outlines how to engage your child in learning. One of the nine essentials is called- Movement with Attention. What she outlines in this section of the book is when the child is paying attention to her inner experience of herself.

How would you know if your child is learning by Moving with Attention? Here are four ways:

1)     Your child is being joyful and playful. You notice that your child is acting happy and playful – as if you were playing a game with her.

2)     You are holding an object, like a toy, and as you move it, your child follows the movement of the object with his eyes and head so he can keep looking at the object. Your child can be in any position like sitting or lying.

Babies usually learn to roll over by looking at a toy or object in front of her or beside her and then it moves behind her. She keeps the object in view and the movement of her head to keep seeing the toy (along with arching her back) rolls her onto her belly.

For children with sight impediments, they will usually follow the sound of the toy to accomplish the rolling movement.

3)      The child has what looks like an inner stare in her eyes. In other words, the child looks off into space without blinking.

Many parents think the child is “checked out” when this happens and will often try to get the child’s attention by excitedly calling her name. Because this “staring” is a potent learning moment, where the brain is flooded with new information, it is beneficial to just allow it happen. It is an extremely potent learning time. To distract the child would stop that process for her.

4)      You notice the child anticipates participating in some way.

For instance if I had Sheila’s arm and I was playfully moving it and then I stopped. If Sheila then reached her arm toward me for me to move it again or she tried to move it in the same way, this would be an example that she is anticipating and participating.


If you observe your child doing any of these four activities, then your child is learning through Movement with Attention. Next month Part 2 of Movement with Attention will outline what you as a parent can do if you aren’t seeing your child performing these actions on her own.


To learn more, read Anat Baniel’s book Kids Beyond Limits which gives much greater detail about Movement with Attention and the other Nine Essentials. Geared toward parents and caregivers, it is an informative, easy-to-read handbook that is essential for parents of special needs children.


Lara Gillease helps special needs children thrive with the Anat Baniel Method. To learn more about her work, go to: To schedule appointments for your child, email Lara:


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