Thursday, May 19, 2011

On-Your-Own therapies

So money is tight your insurance does not cover SPD therapies. What do you do? Lots. Read on.

This blog is about the natural therapy outdoors probably within a mile or two of your home...The park. The park is a great place for an SPD kid. Outside is better than inside..fresh air and natural light. Many times fluorescent lighting is disconcerting to kids, it is LOUD (the incessant buzzing!) and makes everything look green. Sunlight on the skin makes vitamin D, which helps fatigue. The fresh air and natural lighting also helps deeper sleep at night, as it helps to produce melatonin.

Swings are great for propreception and vestibular senses. They also help the child with bi-lateral coordination.

Walking a balance beam is VERY hard for a SPD kid, so much better to practice in a non threatening arena. Climbing ladders creates work for the eyes, balancing system, gross motor skills and bilateral coordination. Slides help the same way, plus it is a bit scary, but scary in a fun way. There are often smaller slides for the very gravitational insecure child. Start by having him climb the slide if he is afraid of climbing the ladder.

Jumping and running trigger language. Hanging from a bar gives muscular sensory feedback and helps with loose joints. Exercise reduces stress by releasing the fight or flight adrenalin built up from the day's problems. Spinning on a tire swing helps the vestibular sense.

The park should be fun. If you are pushing your child to "experience" the park, he or she will not want to go back. Make sure you have plenty of time to spend and have them go at their own speed. If they want to immediately go home, take them for a little walk around, and tell them you don't want to go yet. Introduce things gradually. You might even find yourself on the swing right beside them.

No reason you can't enjoy the park as well....

hugs to you from me for the week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


First, if you are a mom reading this...HAPPY MOM'S DAY! I hope you had a lovely day.

I wanted to continue with some thoughts on other therapies that we have done, which I believe have made a huge difference in compensating with unreasonable fears, particularly when it comes to balance issues or gravitational fears (fear of falling, heights etc.) Some of the therapies are very conventional and well-known. However, there are therapies that are not mainstream.

While nothing works for every child, I believe the best tool a parent can have is KNOWLEDGE. The more you know, the more informed every decision can be.

So one of the first unconventional therapies we employed was hippatherapy. The word "hippa" is from the Greek word for "horse." The word "hippopotamus" means "river horse." So the hippatherapy is in fact the term for horse therapy. (not riding a hippopotamus!)

This therapy is pretty readily available in most medium sized towns, usually in conjunction with a rehabilitation or physical therapy clinic.

The horses are older, calm and uniquely trained specifically for the therapy. 2 volunteers are positioned on each side of the child holding him or her on the horse. The child wears a helmet and the horse is on a lead, with another volunteer leading the horse around the pen. The child will work with a physical therapist while on the horse. They will ride, play ball, put rings on pins in the pen, ride backwards, ride on their knees, and do other activities. Safety is always the most important issue...there is no way the child can fall or the horse can bolt.

The horse provides a high, unstable place. The child must use his or her muscles to adjust constantly to the movement of the horse. Ball playing helps to trigger eye/hand coordination while promoting their balance. A horse's height helps to desensitize the child to the fear of falling, and the fear of heights. (gravitational insecurity) Senses must integrate if the child is to be successful. Many times the child is also allowed to brush the horse and feed the horse a little treat. (Ryan loved this part!) Bi-lateral (using both sides of the body in tandem) coordination is also enhanced with the horse-riding skills.

Ryan did hippatherapy for 16 weeks, once a week. He did an 8 week run, and six months later the other 8 weeks. We followed the hippatherapy with some horseback-riding lessons. I believe it made a huge difference in my son's ability to balance and cope with fears of falling. It also allowed his brain to make some connections in his body that were not wired correctly.

Ryan was around 5 years old when we began the therapy. If your child is younger, talk to your physical therapist to get a recommendation for a time to begin.

If hippatherapy is simply not an option, stay tuned....there are other things that will help your child's coordination and gross/fine motor skills, as well as calm many of their fears.