Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tourette's Syndrome

I think that this article about tourette's syndrome is fascinating. I would love to read about research studies of hippotherapy helping these children.
Helping Children with Tourette's Syndrome 

Monday, August 30, 2010

My 4 year old client is tolerating more and more movement that challenges her balance and postural control. Here she is shown pulling pins off the reins but she was also able to reach forward to remove pins high up on the mane. She is learning how to  bear weight on her hands over the withers while going uphill and leaning back while going downhill. She was a bit leery but more tolerant of faceing sideways while the pony made numerous sharp turns and circles around the outdoor arena's jumps and was very brave while trotting facing backwards.  I love doing therapy at Stone Ridge Farm in Haverhill. Everything there is so pretty and Charmer is such a good therapy pony.

The Temple Grandin Movie

I loved the Temple Grandin HBO movie starring Claire Danes. The acting was incredible and Claire Danes had the voice and body movements down perfectly. The plot was based on the book "Emergence: Labeled Autistic" so focuses on the childhood challenges including confrontations with school bullies, a doctor who wanted to institutionalize her and sexist ranchers who didn't want a woman around taking data for graduate school. The movie ends with her realization that the public is eager to learn about autism from the perspective of a person who can articulate the experience. I think that Temple Grandin's success can be summed up with one word- Persistence.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is this horse real or fake?

I loved the visual perception/illusion exhibit at the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachsuetts. This was one of several images viewers had to guess as to whether it was a real or fake. Nice paint job on this pony!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Its quite flattering when a 2 year old who has a limited vocabulary (in my presence) of "more", "go", "dog", "bye" and "mom" can also say "Barbara".

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quadruped while facing backwards

I seldom position children in quadruped while they face backwards because so many kids find it difficult enough to maintain this position while facing forwards.(which feels more natural)  with the assistancet of the handle to grasp. The child in this video is doing a pretty good job maintaining balance even though she has to work hard  against gravity to hold her head up.

Motor Planning ring Stack

My client did a fantastic job using this new motor planning ring stack that my son just made for me. He attached the pcv pipe into a coffee can with cement and then glued the shown pieces of pipe so that the client has to orient the ring to fit over 3 pipe pieces before it falls down to the bottom of the pole. What I really like about this is that the child can't do an incomplete job because its obvious that the task is not complete until the ring falls all the way down.

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

Friday, August 20, 2010

I like how this little guys parents are sharing his progress with the world. Good job!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Action Picture Book

It was nice to see my newest kids settle down and stop crying. One little girl enjoyed having her familiar toys attached to the handle and become much more engaged with me  as we popped bubbles. Her mother snuck away after the first 5 minutes and it worked out surprisingly well considering how much difficulty she has had with separation. I think she will be a big success story.
I made this action photo album to stimulate conversation and one 4 year old girl with down's syndrome enjoyed it so much I  used it repeatedly throughout the session between activity transitons. She is doing so well- I am going to discharge her so that she can sign up for a riding group with typically developing kids.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stone Ridge Farm Outdoor Arena

I love the outdoor arena at Stone Ridge Farm in Haverhill, MA. Its fairly small and quiet with lots of poles to walk around and over. Today, I did some weaving and maneuvering around the poles to challenge a 4 year old's postural control. She loved trotting and was motivated to say "I want more fast please". Her mom reported that she usually has to be prompted to string a series of words, but she did it several times today. Her singing is more fluid and autmatic than speech and she was able to sing along and follow directions to "if you're happy and you know it....give a kiss, make a noise, say achoo. Mom suggested adding "stick out your tongue" to her repertoire. A very good idea.......

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Links Toys on Tack

This two year old has difficulty separating from her mom even when the mom side walks or walks in front of us in plain view. We tried having the mom remain unseen but the child cried even more. Tday her mom brought in a favorite toy which was perfect because I could easily clip the links onto the tack handle. With constant movement, her toy, a pacifier and my singing we had some nice quiet moments even when mom was not next to her. I think we will bond a bit more each week so that she can start having fun- with or without mom present. She also seemed to like popping bubbles even though the horse was not moving.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sequencing: 1, 2 3 - GO

I had a wonderful session with a new 4 year old client yesterday at Stone Ridge Farm in Haverhill, Mass. I thought she would be afraid but her older sister convinced her that it would be great. I am working on improving balance, motor planning and coordination but like many OT's who do hippotherapy- I also work on improving her speech production. She quickly learned to say "go" but sequencing the four syllables to - one-two-three-go is a bit more challenging. However, she did do it one time- horses really bring out the best in people.     

Friday, August 6, 2010

Walking after Hippotherapy

I wish I had time to work on walking, talking and other motor tasks after the hippotherapy session. I encourage parents to take advantage of all the sensory stimulation by engaging in activities afterwards. Possible activities include a bit of ball play, walking, climbing or completing a ring stack. Even skills to point to and name objects seen from the car and singing may improve after therapy- so try to put off the car nap for ten minutes.   
Parent Carryover Activities

The Best Kind of Different

I really enjoyed reading Shonda Schilling's new book about being a mother of four, discovering that child number three- Grant has asperger's syndrome and finally getting a diagnosis (at age ten) that explains his difficult behaviors. Finally the door opened so that she could receive school services, counseling and support from the local autism organization. As an occupational therapist all I can say is- why did it take so long for the medical and educational professionals to step in? This story is an inspiration.....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Survived another heat wave day on the farm.I have a new 2 year old boy who is cute and sweet but physically exhausting. He is athetoid and flailing so much I have to hold his shoulders in place so that he doesn't inadvertently whack me while I am also trying to keep his hands down on the handle or mane. I also did this while he faced backwards. He actually tolerated facing BW and side ways pretty well but still it is physically tough for me to maintain him in a stable position. It was better with the volunteer stabilizing one shoulder and hand over the croup while I held onto his  leg and gait belt as he alternated between putting weight on his hands and lying down- which seems like pretty good exercise in itself. He also briefly tolerated prone over the horse's barrel. This child did not seem happy during any of this touch - so tactile defensive but his parents said that he yells and cries throughout his other therapies. He didn't cry with me -so I guess the hippotherapy is the least aversive. Hopefully, it will become fun. I am so into having fun......