Movement Method

 

 

The Movement Method Development Team

 
mmteam rupert bio introRupert Isaacson

teamSoniaSonia Sofia Ricci Bitti MSc(Ed)
teamMelissaMelissa Andrews MSc(Ed)
teamLaurenceLaurence Schneider MSc(Neuroscience)
mmteam dralfredziegler introDr. Alfred Ziegler (PhD Physics & Math)
 
Read more about our team...

The Movement Method Adviser Team

 
mmteam arabellacarterjohnson introArabella Carter-Johnson 

adviserkristinDr. Kristin Neff
PhD(Ed-Psych)
advisernaviauxDr. Robert Naviaux MD & PhD NeuroSc
advisertempleDr. Temple Grandin PhD Animal Science
adviserelinorElinor Silverstein Gut-Brain-Connection
 

Movement Method Trainers Close To You:

We have a fabulous group of trainers around the world and are training more to serve be able to make Movement Method more accessible for you. 

Find trainers in your area: 

flagusUSA

flageuropeEurope
flagsouthcentralamSouth/Central America & Caribean
 
 
Find a local trainer...
 
 

 

Movement Method is a set of easy to follow guidelines that anyone can use to create an environment that promotes learning.

FreeEbookButton8

ADD/ADHD, Autism, Sensory-Processing-Disorder, Learning Difficulties - Parents and teachers have never faced such numbers of kids with these diagnoses as we find today. Drugs won't fix it. Traditional education can't handle it. The key is movement and the brain - an understanding how the two are linked. There is no longer any dispute among neuro-scientists and educational psychologists that movement is what stimulates the child's brain.

The key is to understand WHY and HOW!

This is what Movement Method will teach you, whether you want to apply it a regular classroom context (yes we do have strategies for movement in the traditional classroom) or homeschooling or outdoor education.

Are you a parent at your wit's end that just needs to find a way to get your kid learning happily? Are you a teacher who has run through the ganut of traditional methods and still find that there is a population of kids that you just can't reach? Are you a regular parent or teacher and just want to be the most effective you can be?
If so Movement Method, developed in conjunction with several universities worldwide is for you.

Background

tn 650BetsyRuRo

When Rowan Isaacson (whose life story is told in the bestselling book and documentary ‘The Horse Boy’) was 3 years old his parents made the difficult decision to pull him out of school in response to the increasingly regressive behavior that he exhibited whilst there, most likely as a result of unmotivated teachers and the sensory ramifications of spending all day in a windowless room with fluorescent strip lights.

Unsure of how to proceed, Rupert thought about how he would have designed his own education as a child and came up with an education strategy based around 1:1 mentorship and learning through exploration. Rowan is now 13 and over the years his father and teacher, Jenny, have developed a style of teaching him based around movement, intrinsic motivation and nature.

These techniques have allowed Rowan to advance from mastering the basics of reading and writing, to simple addition and subtraction to much more complex topics such as geometry, algebra, physics and chemistry. These same techniques have also been used with the hundreds of other children on the autism spectrum that have come to the Horse Boy Center over the years and the results have been astonishing. This was the start of Movement Method, a series of techniques honed over ten years of trial and error, aimed at helping children with autism open up to learning

To read more about Rowan's story click here and for updates on his progress click here.

Understanding the physiology of Movement Method

tn 1024IMG 9265

Movement Method is based on the following scientifically based observations:

  1. STRESS IMPAIRS LEARNING
  2. WE LEARN BETTER WHEN WE FEEL SAFE
  3. MOVEMENT PROMOTES LEARNING

MMINTROCourseButton8

THE PROBLEM– STRESS IMPAIRS LEARNING

Cortisol is the stress hormone. It is released by the amygdala and is one of the hormones involved in the flight, fight or freeze response. Cortisol is necessary for us to function successfully. It is partly responsible for allowing us to escape from or fight a threat and stay safe. However, it has both a short and long term effect on our ability to learn. In the short term cortisol narrows our focus so that all our attention can be directed towards escaping from or fighting the perceived danger. In the long term chronic levels of cortisol have been shown to actively corrode learning connections within our brains.

It is well-established that children with autism have an over-active amygdala which causes increased cortisol production. This is in part due to the malfunctioning sensory system that is such a common feature of autism. So much so that in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association added hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input to their updated edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ‘s diagnostic criteria for autism. When a child with autism’s sensory system is overstimulated by everyday sensory inputs like artificial lighting, bad smells or large numbers of people then their amygdala is activated which triggers the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. To make matters worse elevated levels of cortisol in the body, such as those experienced by people on the autism spectrum, eventually cause structural alterations in the amygdala that further increases it’s likelihood of being triggered. In a nutshell what this means is children with autism are often locked in a vicious cycle of cortisol production which either impairs or completely blocks their ability to learn.
One way that we can deal with this problem is to set up a learning environment for the child that is free from as many sensory triggers as possible.  The ideal learning environment for a child with autism (or indeed any child) is outside in nature where most of these sensory triggers are just not present. It is also well-established in the scientific literature that spending time in nature reduces cortisol production. However we can also make-over an indoor learning environment by removing the most common sensory triggers paying particular attention to lighting, smell and noise. 
Whilst we cannot emphasize enough how beneficial a sensory make-over is to a child it in itself is not enough. Luckily, however, there is another solution – and the best part is it’s FREE.

THE SOLUTION - WE LEARN BETTER WHEN WE FEEL SAFE

2014 10 19PlaydateWSofia tn-32

Oxytocin is the feel-good or pleasure hormone. Its primary role within the body is to activate the mammalian care-giving system. Oxytocin not only stimulates the start of labor but is released by both mother and child during breast-feeding and when a mother rocks her child. Oxytocin allows us to feel safe and when we feel safe we have more attention available to focus on new concepts and learn.

Think back to our hunter gatherer ancestors out on the African savanna. If they encountered a lion then it was their amygdala that was activated which in turn triggered the release of cortisol (as well as other hormones like adrenaline). Because of the cortisol our ancestors were able to focus all their attention on getting away from (or fighting) the lion and therefore their chance of survival increased. In contrast if our ancestors felt safe and did not detect any potential threats then oxytocin would be released. This hormone had the exact opposite effect on their body to cortisol. It allowed them to broaden their awareness and thus search for another source of water or a new type of berry to eat. In other words it opened them up to learning. Even better oxytocin has also been found to counteract the corrosive effect of cortisol in the brain thus reversing the long term effect of cortisol.
In Movement Method we employ a wide range of other activities that promote the production of oxytocin such as deep pressure, rhythmic music, swinging and laughter.

THE SOLUTION PART 2- MOVEMENT PROMOTES LEARNING 

The Science

Ever since No Child Left Behind was introduced in 2001 there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of physical activity that children across the United States have access to on a daily basis. Schools have become so focused on ‘teaching to the test’ that they have cut physical education programs across the board. This has not only led to increased concerns over childhood obesity but also to exactly what the schools were trying to avoid in the first place – increasingly poor academic performance particularly in the STEM subjects of science of math.

Whilst much of our evolutionary history remains a mystery there is one fact that every paleontologist on the planet accepts – we moved. Our direct ancestors, Homo Sapiens, were thought to have walked and run between 10 and 20 kilometers every day all the while constantly encountering new food sources, predators and physical dangers. And their offspring moved with them meaning that we are evolutionarily programmed to learn on the move. Which is why this is how we learn best and there is a vast body of research to prove it. Imaging studies, for example, have shown that when we exercise there is increased blood volume in a region of the brain called the dentate gyrus which is a part of the hippocampus deeply involved in memory formation. What’s more, studies also indicate that exercise stimulates the brain’s most powerful growth factor, BDNF, which is responsible for creating new brain cells and encouraging neurons to connect with one another, both essential components of learning.

But it goes so much further than this. Studies are also showing that the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is primarily responsible for motor control, directly connects to a region of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex which is responsible for higher level cognitive tasks such as decision making and emotional control. The research goes on to conclude that movement, and in particular the type of rhythmic movement that you get when riding a horse, activates the cerebellum and leads to an increased number of purkinje cells which are responsible for connecting information from the cerebellum to the pre-frontal cortex. What this suggests is that movement leads to the production of purkinje cells within the cerebellum which in turn activates the pre-frontal cortex and over time leads to an increase in flexibility and emotional control.

Luckily for those families that don’t have everyday access to horses it is not just the movement of the horse but movement in general that stimulates learning. The research shows that any type of rhythmic movement, such as riding a horse, swinging, rolling or bouncing on a trampoline has this effect on the brain. These types of movement also stimulate the vestibular system located in the inner ear which is critical for attention and learning.

Allowing a child the chance to explore in a natural environment is as important as the movement itself. So too is teaching a child through, rather than rewarding them with, their interests and obsessions. Babies are born with an intense and unrelenting curiosity and desire to explore the world around them. So intense, in fact, that some scientists describe learning and discovery as a drive, just as hunger and thirst are drives. Discovery brings joy. We never outgrow this desire to learn and our brain retains the ability to learn in this way throughout our lives BUT we can become anesthetized to the joy of discovery. Children learn that education means getting an A, and start to acquire knowledge only in order to get something rather than because it is intrinsically interesting. Children should be given the freedom to explore with no agenda other than discovery on a daily basis. If they are they will learn to love learning for its own sake.

To access the research behind Movement Method click here.

So what exactly is Movement Method?

The Right Physical Environment + The Right Human Environment = Learning
Movement Method is based on the simple premise that if you want a child with autism to learn then you need to create an environment that is conducive to learning. The ideal learning environment should be set-up to increase oxytocin and reduce cortisol production by targeting the child’s sensory needs and allowing the child to move (PHYSICAL ENVIORNMENT). In addition the child should be taught in a flexible, fun and pressure free way through their passions and intrinsic interests (HUMAN ENVIRONMENT). If both the physical and human environment is set up correctly then we generally find that the child advances very quickly in terms of their perspective taking, social and life skills, academics and self-advocacy (LEARNING). The strategies that you will learn can be used to teach the entirety of the national curriculum in a fun and pressure-free way. Not only can we show you how to create your own individualised educational plan (IEP) with short and long term goals to work towards but we can also teach you how to achieve these goals using a fool proof structure we call drop it, do it, confirm it.

What we offer

Horse Boy Learning Predator

We offer live workshops and online courses for parents, teachers and professionals who are interested in learning about how to apply the techniques outlined above. We will cover everything from the science behind Movement Method to simple ways to include movement in your lesson plans to how to design specific activities based around a child’s interest. Please click here for more information or email info@horseboyworld.com.

 

MMCertCourseButton8

 

 

Movement Method Overview   Movement Method is a set of easy to follow guidelines that anyone can use to create an environment that promotes learning.  ADD/ADHD, Autism, Sensory-Processing-Disorder, Learning Difficulties - Parents and teachers have never faced such numbers of kids with these diagnoses as we find today. Drugs won't fix it. Traditional education can't handle it. The key is movement and the brain - an understanding how the two are linked. There is no longer any dispute among neuro-scientists and educational psychologists that movement is what stimulates the child's brain. The key is to understand WHY and HOW! This is what Movement Method will teach you, whether you want to apply it a regular classroom context (yes we do have strategies for movement in the traditional classroom) or homeschooling or outdoor education. Are you a parent at your wit's end that just needs to find a way to get your kid learning happily? Are you a teacher who has run through the ganut of traditional methods and still find that there is a population of kids that you just can't reach? Are you a regular parent or teacher and just want to be the most effective you can be? If so Movement Method, developed in conjunction with several universities worldwide is for you.   Background   When Rowan Isaacson (whose life story is told in the bestselling book and documentary ‘The Horse Boy’) was 3 years old his parents made the difficult decision to pull him out of school in response to the increasingly regressive behavior that he exhibited whilst there, most likely as a result of unmotivated teachers and the sensory ramifications of spending all day in a windowless room with fluorescent strip lights. Unsure of how to proceed, Rupert thought about how he would have designed his own education as a child and came up with an education strategy based around 1:1 mentorship and learning through exploration. Rowan is now 13 and over the years his father and teacher, Jenny, have developed a style of teaching him based around movement, intrinsic motivation and nature. These techniques have allowed Rowan to advance from mastering the basics of reading and writing, to simple addition and subtraction to much more complex topics such as geometry, algebra, physics and chemistry. These same techniques have also been used with the hundreds of other children on the autism spectrum that have come to the Horse Boy Center over the years and the results have been astonishing. This was the start of Movement Method, a series of techniques honed over ten years of trial and error, aimed at helping children with autism open up to learning    Understanding the physiology of Movement Method    Movement Method is based on the following scientifically based observations:   STRESS IMPAIRS LEARNING   WE LEARN BETTER WHEN WE FEEL SAFE   MOVEMENT PROMOTES LEARNING       THE PROBLEM– STRESS IMPAIRS LEARNING   Cortisol is the stress hormone. It is released by the amygdala and is one of the hormones involved in the flight, fight or freeze response. Cortisol is necessary for us to function successfully. It is partly responsible for allowing us to escape from or fight a threat and stay safe. However, it has both a short and long term effect on our ability to learn. In the short term cortisol narrows our focus so that all our attention can be directed towards escaping from or fighting the perceived danger. In the long term chronic levels of cortisol have been shown to actively corrode learning connections within our brains. It is well-established that children with autism have an over-active amygdala which causes increased cortisol production. This is in part due to the malfunctioning sensory system that is such a common feature of autism. So much so that in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association added hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input to their updated edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ‘s diagnostic criteria for autism. When a child with autism’s sensory system is overstimulated by everyday sensory inputs like artificial lighting, bad smells or large numbers of people then their amygdala is activated which triggers the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. To make matters worse elevated levels of cortisol in the body, such as those experienced by people on the autism spectrum, eventually cause structural alterations in the amygdala that further increases it’s likelihood of being triggered. In a nutshell what this means is children with autism are often locked in a vicious cycle of cortisol production which either impairs or completely blocks their ability to learn.  One way that we can deal with this problem is to set up a learning environment for the child that is free from as many sensory triggers as possible. The ideal learning environment for a child with autism (or indeed any child) is outside in nature where most of these sensory triggers are just not present. It is also well-established in the scientific literature that spending time in nature reduces cortisol production. However we can also make-over an indoor learning environment by removing the most common sensory triggers paying particular attention to lighting, smell and noise.  Whilst we cannot emphasize enough how beneficial a sensory make-over is to a child it in itself is not enough. Luckily, however, there is another solution – and the best part is it’s FREE.   THE SOLUTION - WE LEARN BETTER WHEN WE FEEL SAFE    Oxytocin is the feel-good or pleasure hormone. Its primary role within the body is to activate the mammalian care-giving system. Oxytocin not only stimulates the start of labor but is released by both mother and child during breast-feeding and when a mother rocks her child. Oxytocin allows us to feel safe and when we feel safe we have more attention available to focus on new concepts and learn. Think back to our hunter gatherer ancestors out on the African savanna. If they encountered a lion then it was their amygdala that was activated which in turn triggered the release of cortisol (as well as other hormones like adrenaline). Because of the cortisol our ancestors were able to focus all their attention on getting away from (or fighting) the lion and therefore their chance of survival increased. In contrast if our ancestors felt safe and did not detect any potential threats then oxytocin would be released. This hormone had the exact opposite effect on their body to cortisol. It allowed them to broaden their awareness and thus search for another source of water or a new type of berry to eat. In other words it opened them up to learning. Even better oxytocin has also been found to counteract the corrosive effect of cortisol in the brain thus reversing the long term effect of cortisol. In Movement Method we employ a wide range of other activities that promote the production of oxytocin such as deep pressure, rhythmic music, swinging and laughter.   THE SOLUTION PART 2- MOVEMENT PROMOTES LEARNING    The Science    Ever since No Child Left Behind was introduced in 2001 there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of physical activity that children across the United States have access to on a daily basis. Schools have become so focused on ‘teaching to the test’ that they have cut physical education programs across the board. This has not only led to increased concerns over childhood obesity but also to exactly what the schools were trying to avoid in the first place – increasingly poor academic performance particularly in the STEM subjects of science of math.  Whilst much of our evolutionary history remains a mystery there is one fact that every paleontologist on the planet accepts – we moved. Our direct ancestors, Homo Sapiens, were thought to have walked and run between 10 and 20 kilometers every day all the while constantly encountering new food sources, predators and physical dangers. And their offspring moved with them meaning that we are evolutionarily programmed to learn on the move. Which is why this is how we learn best and there is a vast body of research to prove it. Imaging studies, for example, have shown that when we exercise there is increased blood volume in a region of the brain called the dentate gyrus which is a part of the hippocampus deeply involved in memory formation. What’s more, studies also indicate that exercise stimulates the brain’s most powerful growth factor, BDNF, which is responsible for creating new brain cells and encouraging neurons to connect with one another, both essential components of learning. But it goes so much further than this. Studies are also showing that the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is primarily responsible for motor control, directly connects to a region of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex which is responsible for higher level cognitive tasks such as decision making and emotional control. The research goes on to conclude that movement, and in particular the type of rhythmic movement that you get when riding a horse, activates the cerebellum and leads to an increased number of purkinje cells which are responsible for connecting information from the cerebellum to the pre-frontal cortex. What this suggests is that movement leads to the production of purkinje cells within the cerebellum which in turn activates the pre-frontal cortex and over time leads to an increase in flexibility and emotional control. Luckily for those families that don’t have everyday access to horses it is not just the movement of the horse but movement in general that stimulates learning. The research shows that any type of rhythmic movement, such as riding a horse, swinging, rolling or bouncing on a trampoline has this effect on the brain. These types of movement also stimulate the vestibular system located in the inner ear which is critical for attention and learning. Allowing a child the chance to explore in a natural environment is as important as the movement itself. So too is teaching a child through, rather than rewarding them with, their interests and obsessions. Babies are born with an intense and unrelenting curiosity and desire to explore the world around them. So intense, in fact, that some scientists describe learning and discovery as a drive, just as hunger and thirst are drives. Discovery brings joy. We never outgrow this desire to learn and our brain retains the ability to learn in this way throughout our lives BUT we can become anesthetized to the joy of discovery. Children learn that education means getting an A, and start to acquire knowledge only in order to get something rather than because it is intrinsically interesting. Children should be given the freedom to explore with no agenda other than discovery on a daily basis. If they are they will learn to love learning for its own sake.   So what exactly is Movement Method?   The Right Physical Environment + The Right Human Environment = Learning  Movement Method is based on the simple premise that if you want a child with autism to learn then you need to create an environment that is conducive to learning. The ideal learning environment should be set-up to increase oxytocin and reduce cortisol production by targeting the child’s sensory needs and allowing the child to move (PHYSICAL ENVIORNMENT). In addition the child should be taught in a flexible, fun and pressure free way through their passions and intrinsic interests (HUMAN ENVIRONMENT). If both the physical and human environment is set up correctly then we generally find that the child advances very quickly in terms of their perspective taking, social and life skills, academics and self-advocacy (LEARNING). The strategies that you will learn can be used to teach the entirety of the national curriculum in a fun and pressure-free way. Not only can we show you how to create your own individualised educational plan (IEP) with short and long term goals to work towards but we can also teach you how to achieve these goals using a fool proof structure we call drop it, do it, confirm it.   What we offer   We offer live workshops and online courses for parents, teachers and professionals who are interested in learning about how to apply the techniques outlined above. We will cover everything from the science behind Movement Method to simple ways to include movement in your lesson plans to how to design specific activities based around a child’s interest. Please click here for more information or email info@horseboyworld.com.   

The Long Ride Home

The long awaited sequel of the Horse Boy.

 

longridehome 4

STARTebookButton8STARTmmcertButton8STARThbmcertButton8

Cron Job Starts