Cali has been doing hippotherapy for about six months now and we have really loved the progress she has made on and off the horse. Her physical therapist, Tiffany, does a phenomenal job with her. From the beginning until now, we have seen Cali go from just sitting and riding to now trotting, standing while riding, shooting baskets while standing on horse, holding objects over her head while riding, and much more. It is not very common for Cali to attend a session and not want to ride. However, about two weeks ago she surprised us a little and did not want to ride. One of the barn cats, Buzz, had caught Cali’s eye and it was pretty much done after that. Tiffany tried to verbally redirect Cali’s attention, but this was not working. In these situations, whether during hippotherapy, at home therapy, or any other type, I try and stay completely silent and let the therapist do their thing. This time was no different. I stayed quite and watched what Tiffany did next, and was so impressed with what I saw. Cali kept protesting Tiffany and proceded to go after Buzz. Tiffany then stopped with the verbal redirection, walked up to Cali, bent down to be eye level with her, and pulled out six laminated square pictures. The pictures represented the things they would be looking for when they went on their trail ride. The instant Tiffany pulled out the pictures, Cali stopped what she was doing and was totally focused on the pictures. When Tiffany was done explaining the cards, she told Cali to come get on the horse. Without ANY resistance, Cali walked up the ramp to mount Brownie and off they went.
I don’t exactly know why it is that some kids on the spectrum do better with visuals, but for Cali they work like a charm. Remember the post about the broken wrist? Pictures did wonders in that situation as well.
So, if your wondering what tip to take from this post…visuals, visuals, visuals. Be creative. There is no one, formal way of implementing this when helping your child. Email me with any stories you may have in regards to using visuals, picture charts, or anything else related!