The Mandt System, Inc. is grateful for this submission from Linda Logan, a certified Mandt instructor. The message reinforces the importance of human connections and relationships which is emphasized in the RCT curriculum.
How do you reach a child whose behavior (which includes a total absence of behavior), seems unrelated to external cues? In Kids Beyond Limits, Anat Baniel’s successes in working with children with special needs offer important clues. These insights are also proving valuable in treating adults with intellectual disabilities and victims of stroke.
The bottom line is that the goal when working with children with special needs should not be “fixing” but connecting. Baniel’s work shows that the brain and the behaviors it evokes cannot be fully understood in the absence of a vital human connection. The most powerful tool of therapy is the evocation of a sense of real-time relatedness, which has been labeled variously “empathy” and “love.” This connection is necessary for growth of the child at every level of development. This is not a new idea but neither is it embraced in mental health and developmental disability professions, which continue to rely on restraining and isolating children whose behaviors fall outside the realm of understanding or meaningful response.
Using examples from her practice, Baniel demonstrates that children with special needs are capable of growth and development far beyond the expectations of parents and experts alike. She describes strategies for meaningful interactions that promote brain growth and development. Baniel’s focus is consistent with that of Bruce Perry, MD, in his work dealing with children who have been traumatized, and it supports the evidence for the powerful role that engagement plays as put forward by University of California, San Francisco, psychiatry professors Thomas Lewis, MD, Fari Amini, MD, and Richard Lannon, MD, in A General Theory of Love.