Sensory play is important for all children—not just individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Sensory play helps build language skills as well as fine motor and gross motor skills. Children with ASD often experience an inability to respond “appropriately” to sensory input, which is why they tend to have challenging behaviors or obsessions (i.e. arm flapping, avoiding eye contact, etc). Furthermore, children with ASD can have problems with social skills and speech and language skills. Most treatment options for children with ASD or with sensory dysfunction include sensory integration.
You might have seen a child toe-walking, or covering their ears with their hands. But instead of just observing, have you ever wondered what it might be like to experience the world like a child with autism? Autism, a disorder of neural development, affects the way a child’s brain processes information and can have serious effects on communication, social interaction, and repetitive, stereotypic movements. It is a mysterious disorder in that scientists have yet to identify the cause, but the number of children diagnosed continues to rise. What is perhaps the most enigmatic about autism spectrum disorders, however, is the sensory abnormalities described and observed by some in nearly 90% of the autism population. For the normal brain, this can be difficult to imagine. But now, thanks to developers at the Vancouver Hacking Health hackathon, a simulation of the autism experience might provide typical brains with a taste of the autism experience.
“Giddy up horsey” just got a whole new meaning for children with special needs in the Northeast (and no, its not riding on daddy’s back). At one special New Hampshire barn, speech therapy techniques are being combined with therapeutic horseback riding to create a new kind of therapy experience. At Horsetalk Therapeutic Services in Raymond New Hampshire, director Ms. Toby Freeman, a certified speech and language pathologist, has designed a program that provides Hippotherapy to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disorders. She began the treatment after having studied speech and language pathology and having a lifelong love of horses.