Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dismounting from the horse

Photograph used with permission from Bart Hickman at Bart's Photography

There are several different ways to dismount from a horse. These pictures show my favorite method because the child has to motor plan how to first put weight on the withers (the horse hump in front of the rider). Next, swing that right leg behind, shifting weight onto the left foot while at the same time moving the arms to face that person on the right (not shown) .

This method also provides much sensory (tactile/touch) deep pressure stimulation as the child slides along the horse's barrrel down to the ground. I encourage the side-walker (the person assisting on the other side of the horse) to encourage eye contact as the child is facing her and moving downward.

In the above picture, the child is stepping onto steps. But if the child is willing to jump off (with some assistance, as shown) its a great way to work on balance and the bilateral coordination to jump. It also helps those kids with gravitational insecurity get used to movement while off the ground.

Sometimes I have my kids turn around on the horse to face me and then jump. I hold their hands, count to 3 and prepare them for a jump landing.

There are other ways to dismount which I won't get into here since they are rather advanced.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


alanna said...
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
December 28, 2009 11:45 PM

Thanks, Lucy. comments are most appreciated!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Preparing the Child with Autism to Ride

I love checking out the youtube videos to see what other therapists are doing. I like how this therapist, most likely an occupational therapist is taking the time to give the little boy deep pressure and process what is going on before having the horse start walking.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vacation yeah!

I will be away from work for 3 weeks taking a very much needed vacation. Winter is very tough because I already live 45 minutes away, but with bad weather many kids cancel. Then the facility rearranges my schedule and I end up working very few hours, not worth the commute. In addition, I end up inside a small, noisy, crowded indoor (heated) arena where my kids become even more distracted and overloaded. I need to analyze whether or not to take the winter off.

On another note. My editor has given me a list of photos that I need of young children doing various activities such as ring stack, wheelbarrow walking and using a pincer to pick up cereal... If anyone out in cyberspace has a young child of the right age and take a photograph doing what I need, you can have your child's photo in a best selling book (I hope best selling).The book is a parent's guide to developing hand skills and to be published by Therapro, Inc.
I am especially looking for photos of non Caucasian children to add more diversity. If you can help me thanks sooooooo much.

Weight bearing on weaker hand during activities

A three year old who has the objective of improving protective reactions when falling did very well standing on top of the horse for 2-3 minutes while horse was stationary. He leaned a bit to his stronger left side so this was an excellent activity to make him aware of both sides, strengthen and balance.
I am attaching a youtube video a mom made a few weeks ago.The little girl has increased tone in her right hand. My goal is to promote using it as an assist and weight bearing. She did quite well yesterday giving high 5s with it. I have a game where when they give a high 5 I make an animal sound, so they want to do it repeatedly.You can't see it in the video but after the camera stopped rolling she did quite well bearing weight on the withers with her right hand while reaching for a pin with the left. But I did have to assist her.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun with the Whoopee Cushion

An OK day. I find that I really click with some kids and not so much with others. One little girl with cerebral palsy does not cooperate when asked to change positions and will lean against me at any opportunity. Yet, when I do my best to limit my hand contact to shoulders and hips or nothing- she will just slide off the horse or hang her arms and legs in an awkward position as I try to get her to move her legs and rotate her trunk. The mom tells me that her previous therapist- a PT got her to do all of these things independently. On a more positive note- a new client showed me how she can post repeatedly in order to make the whoopee cushion sounds and a child surprised me by tolerating prone on his belly over the horse barrel (superman position) in order to touch my squeaky ball.
Got a nice holiday gift of sweet items- I'm not a big sugar eater but love to be appreciated!!
Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jane--anne said...

Dear Barb, thanks for the link to my blog. The Canadian UN are very helpful volunteers. And very kind to donate not only their time to my hippotherapy program, but also their money.I am very gratefull to them.

I am happy to link and give information about such an important program.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pictures on Sleeve

I made a "bunny" a while back out of a can- adding plastic ears and fur around it. Children can insert the paper veggies inside the bunny's mouth. I sewed some velcro to this sleeve so that children can pull off the picture to feed the bunny. I want the children to practice pulling this sleeve onto their arm to improve dressing skills. This sleeve is rather large for my little kids but seems to work OK over the bulky jackets.
I hope to try this out on the little boy with autism who I planned this for. Most of the clients canceled today after driving one and a half hours in bad weather. It was only drizzling near home, but got worse and worse as I drove.
Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Socially Curious and Curiously Social

Some of the children I work with have Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, PDD-NOS or a non-verbal learning disability. Many of them will grow up to have difficulties understanding social thinking and successfully developing social skills. Check out the book review I wrote on amazon on the new book Socially Curious and Curiously Social. Written for young adults- it really explains how to navigate the social world.