SenseAbility – Children and the Feldenkrais Method

Photo by Jordan Christian Photo by Jordan ChristianMay 12, 2023Exploring Children’s Motor Development With The Feldenkrais Method® From the Editors
The Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education can help improve the movement, coordination and overall function of people of all ages – including the very youngest. In this month’s issue of SenseAbility, our contributors explore how children – including those with special needs – can benefit from the unique insights of Moshe Feldenkrais into human learning. In addition, readers will find many clues about why the developmental movement patterns of early childhood are so often central to the ways that Feldenkrais® practitioners assist adults in discovering healthier movement.Chrish Kresge, who was worked with children for three decades, talks to SenseAbility editor Seth Dellinger about the central importance of creating connection with a child to support their learning. Likewise, Cyndi Manes emphasizes how both the Feldenkrais pracititoner and the child’s parent can intentionally relate to the child’s potential rather than their limitations – and how this differs from the approach of most traditional health care. Matty Wilkinson shares a short video of himself working with a little girl to give you a direct sense of what Feldenkrais for children looks like. Alex Schaefer describes how his 2-year-old niece inspires his approach to teaching adults and his own experience of movement.

Jane, Joe and Seth  What Parents Of Children With Learning Challenges Need To Know About Motor DevelopmentAn interview with Chrish Kresge
This month Seth Dellinger interviews Chish Kresge about how parents can support their children with special needs by working with a Feldenkrais practitioner. Watch Now Faye Berton About Chrish: Chrish is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner® who works with people of all ages and backgrounds using movement with awareness as a primary tool for improving functional health and vitality. This includes coordination, balance, self-awareness, posture and voice. She is also an actor and director. Chrish is passionate about using her diverse skills and background to help people find their innate potency and poise.

Chrish also works with individuals with stroke and other disabilities, and is a graduate of the Anat Baniel Neuromovement® Method® for Children.

She co-edited a book about the Feldenkrais Method, Learning Through Movement, published by Handspring Publishing (UK) in 2020.

She maintains an active private practice in her studio in Washington, D.C.
Her website is
What To Expect When A Feldenkrais® Practitioner 
Works With Your Neuro-Diverse Child
By Cyndi ManesIf you are the parent of a neurodiverse child, you have probably researched ways to facilitate your child’s development. While working with practitioners within the traditional medical model, you have probably repeatedly heard what problems your child has and what all the deficits are. As Feldenkrais® Practitioners, we can offer you a very different perspective. We look for and identify your child’s strengths, the skills that provide the basis for all future progress. Most importantly the whole child is important and any lack is addressed as just a part of this whole.
Read More Becci Parsons About Cyndi: Cyndi Manes is a retired Physical Therapist who has been a Feldenkrais® Practitioner for more than 20 years. She has specialized in working with neurodiverse children. Cyndi has taken Chava Shelhav’s ChildSpace training which emphasized parent /infant interactions to promote child development and Anat Baniel’s mastery training, Working with Children with Special Needs where she improved her handling techniques. Her primary mentor is Ellen Soloway. Cyndi has synthesized her diverse trainings into an effective approach to ensure her client’s success. Her website is
Curiosity, Connection And Learning: 
A Developmental Perspective On The Art Of Learning
Photo by Matty WilkinsonBy Matty Wilkinson

A child’s sense of self develops in relationship with the environment: interacting, sensing, moving, responding & engaging with people, objects, the ground, and the field of gravity. As a Feldenkrais® and Anat Baniel Method® practitioner, when I work with children I try to create conditions that support their innate capacity to learn. The video below is from 2019, and is one example of how this can look. It shows an individual lesson, what Feldenkrais practitioners call Functional Integration®. The principles I discuss in the video apply to how both children and adults develop through relationships, and how we can create experiences and environments that are better suited for learning.

In the video you will see that my client and I are in a playful and attuned dance. There is humor, listening and responding, moments of peekaboo, laughter, and rich attention to the process of moving together. The lesson begins in a position that feels comfortable and familiar to her. She is at ease and feels safe. When I touch her my intention is to help her to sense herself, as she is. I’m not imposing, correcting, or trying to change her.  I help support the weight of her head, arms and chest. This reduces the muscular effort she’s using to counter gravity, and helps her to sense herself with more nuance and subtlety. In the narration I highlight some of the key elements of the interaction that support learning. These include: curiosity, connection, attention, reversibility, variation, rest, and acceptance.

I hope the video and commentary give you a better understanding of how some of the ideas underlying the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education can be applied with children, and how an interaction based on these principles might unfold. No two lessons will look the same, because the process grows out of a responsive “movement conversation” between two people. 

Notice what you sense in yourself as you watch and listen. How is what you see and hear different from, or perhaps similar to, other kinds of learning interventions, including those for children with special needs?
Watch the video Matty Wilkinson About Matty: Matty is a Feldenkrais Method® and Anat Baniel Method® for Children practitioner in private practice in Boston and online. He is fascinated by the developmental process and believes in the innate potential of each individual to learn. In 2001 Matty began teaching preschool, studying child development, and joined a Feldenkrais® training. In 2006 Matty trained with Anat Baniel to work with children with special needs, and he earned a MA in Child Development from Tufts University in 2009. As a neurodevelopmental consultant, Matty coaches parents and educators to create optimal conditions for children’s learning, applying his expertise as an early childhood educator, sensorimotor practitioner, and father. In  2020 Matty and two colleagues co-founded The Moving Center. Together they collaborate online and in-person internationally, teaching children, parents and the professionals who work with them. 

His website is:
What Kids Can Teach Us
Photo by Fabian CentenoBy Alex Schaefer

Greetings and pleasant movement to you, my name is Alex Schaefer, I am a physical therapist and Feldenkrais® Practitioner. After 22 years working in orthopedics, neurology, sports medicine, and geriatrics in a variety of locations across the country, I have recently moved back home to Illinois to start my own private practice incorporating physical therapy and the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education together. It is my professional dream job and I’m excited to blend the concepts of motor learning, individualized self care, and neuroplasticity from the Feldenkrais Method to an audience looking for something more than traditional physical therapy.

Now that I have a schedule of my own making, I have the great pleasure of spending a full day once a week with my niece who will be 2 years old later in May.

Read More Becci Parsons About Alex: Alex Schaefer is a physical therapist, movement educator, martial artist and Feldenkrais®️ pratitioner. For the past 20 years, he has worked in a variety of settings including out-patient orthopedics, sports medicine, and neurology. His post graduate interests include: structural integration, pain neuroscience education, meditation, and visceral manipulation. He teaches live ATM® classes 5 days a week at his office in O’Fallon IL.
His website
ResourcesExperience “Baby Rolling”, an Awareness Through Movement® lesson taught by Chrish Kresge. Click here to listenExperience “Titling Legs on Back- Dependence, Maturation & Verticality”, an Awareness Through Movement® lesson taught by Matty Wilkinson. 
Click here to listen 
(Original lesson source David Zemach Bersin)Check out an interview with Carla Reed, another Feldenkrais® pracitioner who specializes in working with special needs children, from the December 2022 issue of SenseAbility. Click here to watchAdults in Feldenkrais® classes often move like babies! Click here to watch

Did You Know?
You can access free lessons on Listen to them nowYou can rewatch previous SenseAbility interviews on our Youtube Channel
You can find hundreds of Feldenkrais® classes taught online. Go here to find a class you will enjoy. The following are service marks, trademarks, collective, or certification marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America in the US: Feldenkrais Guild®, Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Functional Integration®, FI®, Awareness Through Movement®, ATM®, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher®, GCFT(CM), Guild Certified Feldenkrais PractitionerCM, GCFP(CM), Certified Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Teacher(CM), CFATMT(CM), Feldenkrais Journal(TM), Friends of Feldenkrais(SM), and FGNA Feldenkrais Method Logo.
The following are service marks, trademarks, or certification marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America in Canada: Feldenkrais GuildTM, Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais® Method or Feldenkrais Method(TM), Awareness Through Movement®, ATM(TM), Prise de conscience par le mouvement(MD), Functional Integration®, FI(TM), L’intégration fonctionnelle(MD), Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher(TM) , GCFT(TM), Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner(TM), GCFP(TM), Certified Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Teacher(TM), CFATMT(TM), Friends of Feldenkrais(SM), Feldenkrais Journal(TM), and FGNA Feldenkrais Method Logo.
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