Thanks to all of you who submitted questions to ask Jane. The next Q&A will be with Dawn, Cali’s speech therapist. And let me assure you it will be great! Yes, I am biased but Dawn truly has a gift when it comes to working with children on the spectrum and improving their speech.
Q&A WITH PHYSICAL THERAPIST JANE:
Me: Why hippotherapy?
Jane: Hippotherapy is a medical rehabilitation modality that offers a very specific rhythmical input to an individual’s central nervous system.
This information helps individuals’ awareness and organization of sensory stimuli better than any other natural form of dynamic movement. It is a proven scientific research based modality utilized in the therapy world.
Me: Why is there such a connect between animals and children on the spectrum, or just children having general delays?
Jane: I am not entirely sure since I can only speak from the equine level. Horses are very high spiritual animals and operate on a higher level of intuitive observation. They have a very impressive “knowing” . They are this way with all persons not just children on the spectrum. They are very good teachers and are able to offer movement as their basis for teaching.
Me: “Is it a concern to have my child go from sitting to walking and skip crawling?”
Jane: “In my opinion yes. It does not mean that it is necessarily bad but a child who skips crawling loses a whole series of strengthening that is offered via crawling for the upper back and shoulder joint complex.”
Me: What is the difference between a physical therapist and an occupational therapist?
Jane: A physical therapist is a movement expert. They test and measure strength, balance, coordination, gait,etc.. An occupational therapist will focus more on activities of daily living, sensory integration and upper extremity studies. But there is much overlap among the two professions
Me: Many children on the spectrum deal with low muscle tone. Many parents are not aware of this fact. What are some signs to look for that indicate low muscle tone? What muscles are most commonly affected?
Jane: It varies what muscles are affected but I would say core strength is probably the biggest. If children have low muscle tone, they may tire easily or seek props for support since they lack the necessary muscle tone to support their skeleton (shows up in posture and alignment) and activities of movement.
Me: Where is a good place to seek out a physical therapist?
Jane: PTs work in outpatient and inpatient settings. There are many specialty categories. Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Orthopedics, Neuro, etc… If you are looking for a child focus PT then a good place to start is at a children’s hospital.
Me: During a physical therapy evaluation what is tested? How much is a typical price for an evaluation? Can these evaluations be covered by the state or a government program?
Jane: Muscle strength, range of motion, balance, gait, coordination, neurology, The typical price for an evaluation is probably $100 + and most evaluations can be done without needing a physician referral. It is a good idea to get a physician referral if you are going to proceed with doing some therapy sessions. I am not sure exactly what the state and federal guidelines state in terms of what they will pay for for physical therapy. This is constantly changing and I don’t deal with reimbursement issues that much. Having a physician referral probably helps in getting coverage. I know that Medicaid no longer pays for hippotherapy visits.
Me: What is the earliest age you can start physical therapy with a child?
Jane: The early intervention program begins from birth to age three. It depends on when problems become observable.
Me: Many autistic children also deal with poor posture. Does poor posture affect gross or fine motor skills? What are some at home exercises children can do to help promote correct posture?
Jane: Yes it does have a negative effect. Strengthening core exercises. For example the sit and spin device helps children recruit their abdominals. Lying on their belly propped on elbows and doing reaching activities strengthens their back and shoulder joint complex that I mentioned earlier.