Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Hippotherapy is a great treatment tool used to teach children how to point. I began working with a new six year old client this weak who has autism. He knows how to point but seems to not want to bother doing it. He is quickly learning that I stop the horse movement when he ignores my directions and that he gets rewarded with trots when he communicates. I stopped the horse in a position so that he had a choice of pointing to go up a hill (which he likes) or into a fence and I modelled pointing up the hill. He is able to clearly indicate what he wants by lifting his arm up high and pointing. At other times he tried to get away with a tiny index finger point while holding onto the handle. This was only his second lesson, so I think he will learn that if he wants the horse to move, I want a really clear cut arm in the air point. We will work on both pointing to go places and pointing to choose and remove pictures from a velcro board.
These same principles of demanding that the child work to the best of his ability is beautifully elaborated in the book The Verbal Behavior Approach. Mary Barbera explains that once the child demonstrates the ability to articulate words, we should never settle for sloppy approximations. I also strive to have the child increase the volume so that the horse can hear "go" and other directions.