Thursday, June 30, 2011

Trainer’s Corner: Back to Basics

I think the title “Trainer’s Corner” is very applicable for two reasons: 1) This friendly post is coming directly from one of your trainers, and 2) It is analogous to a boxer’s trainer. A boxer’s trainer will do his best to provide the boxer with all the skills necessary to succeed. Your ABR trainers are charged with a similar task, so the analogy should resonate pretty well.

Round 1: Before going out into the ABR world, you should have a solid grasp of the fundamentals. In the ABR context, these fundamentals are numerous and sometimes overwhelming…however I will bring you through some of them step by step (round per round). During the majority of my evaluations, there is a common thread that weaves its way all the way through each family unit…they forget that this is a PROCESS. Process is “a systematic series of actions directed to some goal”…therefore by definition it should be clear that things have to go in sequence and in phases. The fact that you cannot skip over phases is not an arbitrary decision, rather a reality you have to understand and integrate.

Each phase is designed in preparation for the next phase and is structurally predetermined by the human motor developmental pattern…not by ABR. We are bound to this developmental path by mother- nature so any questions that relate to more complex developmental skills should be automatically answered.

In the past, I have found it useful to help parents differentiate between chronological age and developmental age. To be more precise, in healthy individuals the chronological age comes with some predictable developmental milestones. In effect, you can accurately estimate the chronological age by knowing (seeing) the developmental phase they are in.

In the above image, the developmental age (stage of development) is typically achieved at a certain age (for example: sits without support between 5-8 months). This type of chart can be somewhat confusing to many parents. Statements like “he / she is 4 years old so we have to stand them to help them develop the hips” come from this well-ingrained developmental chart. However, as mentioned before, if the previous stages have not yet been achieved (lifting and holding the head, rolling over, from prone position lifts chest with arm support, etc..) then any discussion (or statements) regarding more advanced skills is unproductive. Therefore, more emphasis and focus on the developmental age will be, not only helpful in understanding the big picture, but more accurate in assessing your child’s current progress.

If you have ever seen any of the Rocky movies, you can appreciate the image of the grizzled trainer, Mickey, yelling at Rocky and trying to motivate him through a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Although I obviously won’t yell and scream, the intensity is still there: “Get back to basics!! Remember the fundamentals, Rock!” The road is long and there will be challenges…however you have a trainer in your corner who will slap a towel around your neck in between rounds, sit you down, throw water on your face, and give it to you straight.

See you soon for round 2!


  1. I love where you are going with this blog! Thank you for having the energy and interest to pursue this as an avenue to parents. Even after eight years I find this conversation helpful and necessary. I will be following you faithfully. Hope you are well.

  2. Thanks, Sharon! That means alot coming from you! Look forward to seeing you all again soon!