Our journey through autism

Archive for April, 2012

Horse Riding

Back in Janurary I wrote this about Equine Therapy at the time I didnt know that there was a difference between hippotherapy and something called theraputic riding.

Hippo-therapy or equine therapy is done by a certified physical therapist and they carry out physical therapy but the horse is an aid for skill learning and they carry out all their goals but atop the horse. They sit backwards or sideways for balance training, they stick their arms out, they lean forward, sideways or backwards to grab items etc.

Therapeutic Riding is riding a horse as best as an individual can with their disability, they learn riding safety, compassion towards the horse and they create a bond with the horse and the whole experience helps calm a child on the spectrum. The teacher isnt a certified therapist just someone with knowledge and experience both with horses and special needs. Theraputic riding is more widespread and common.

Both are beneficial to a child on the spectrum but hippotherapy is more intense, and because of the presense of a certified therapist it is almost always covered by insurance.

Bilal was doing theraputic riding as Lynn Bretcht isnt a certified therapist I asked her about the difference between the two, she explained it to me and said that even though she isnt certified she was still carrying out the same goals as in hippotherapy, her son Dustin has Downs and was in therapy growing up, he did/does Speech, OT, and PT and she used to observe his sessions and took ideas to use with horse back riding. So technically Bilal was doing theraputic riding but it was more like hippotherapy.

Children’s Therapy Works (CTW) the center where Bilal takes his OT and PT trained their physical therapists in hippotherapy and riding, and in April started giving sessions at a farm. Worried that Bilal would have a repitition of services between CTW and Bretcht Stables I told Lynn that she could teach Bilal basic horse back riding skills and no longer offer him therapy as he will be getting that with CTW, she agreed and we got him riding boots and he’s learning to “post” and steer, he may learn a bit slower but as she had 3 months with him in therapy she knows him well and can adapt his learning to fit him.

The only difference between what he was learning and what he’s now doing is in hippo is that instead of sitting in a saddle with stir-ups he’s just sitting on a saddle blanket, its much harder and this teaches him balance and really strengthens the hip/waist and core muscles. I think doing both hippo and horse back riding lessons has greatly strengthened Bilal’s core and posture and maybe one day he can be a rider maybe compete in special Olympics or other competitions.


Adaptive Aquatics

One of the things we really wanted to get Bilal into was swimming. He loves the water but he has no structure and of course cannot swim or float independently. I searched a lot online for somewhere that offered adaptive aquatics that’s swimming classes but with teachers knowledgeable of special needs requirements. My searches came out bust or places too far away to be practical. At the special needs camps expo I was on the lookout for swimming classes and thankfully found a center called Unique Therapy Services, they offer adaptive aquatics and aquatic therapy. They offer the classes at a local hotel’s swimming pool and one only 5 minutes away. We set an appointment and went. It turns out is run by a middle aged couple and a couple other therapists. Most clients were present for aquatic physical therapy with a lot of underwater stretching and exercises. Bilal had the option of doing either one but as he’s already taking PT, OT, horse back riding and soon also hippo-therapy (will elaborate in another post) I decided he didn’t need more therapy just normal swimming lessons will be enough. The teacher is in the water with him while he’s wearing a swimming vest around his chest and waist and they throw out rubber ducks or other floating toys and go swim and collect them, he’s learning to kick properly, to blow and spit if the water gets into his face, and just gaining confidence in the water and he loves it, a huge smile on his face the whole time and always saying “by myself” and wanting to get the farthest toy and swim around the whole pool, he even changed the vest to a thinner belt and learnt to bounce in the water till the water reached his nose. The teacher says he’ll be swimming in no time. They offer classes in sessions of 4 lessons each so we’ll take 2 sessions and see from there, by the time he finishes those it will be summer so perfect timing. 

Autism Awareness Continued…

So yesterday was World Autism Awareness day I followed the hash tag on Twitter, re tweeted some posts or links, copy and pasted some links from the Autism Speaks website on to my Facebook for others to know more about the disorder. Then in the late afternoon we went out, we all dressed up in blue and went to Home Depot and got our light bulb. Our patio just has the one light bulb and its not very visible but we lit it up blue and it felt good to share in this with the rest of the ASD community even with something so little as a light bulb and some internet time. Here are a few pictures or links I found interesting yesterday.


Pictures, these are my own:

Home Depot: http://instagr.am/p/I7yPSaHbX7/

Light it up blue: http://instagr.am/p/I8HCvKHbcg/       &      http://instagr.am/p/I77U3FHbaD/


I was proud to find out that Egypt participated as well by lighting up a couple monuments including the Giza pyramids in blue in recognition of Autism. There is an active chapter that strives to educate and integrate the public with autism, true Egypt has a long way to go as most doctors and pediatricians do not check for developmental skills of infants and toddlers during well check-ups, a well known speech pathalogist even said that autism is just an excuse parents use for not teaching their child to speak and communicate properly, but all in all its a great step forward for the region.


Don’t forget that April is Autism Awareness month, so you still have time, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, TJMAXX and I’m sure other retailers are helping with donations, because of spring and the great weather you can find an Autism Walk near you to participate in. Everyday can be autism day, you can donate time or money any day of the year. With 1 in every 88 children affected by this disorder its the least you can do, just understand us and recognize the signs.

Autism Awareness Day

Today is world autism awareness day, a day to help understand this disorder to inform, to help fund autism research and to appreciate the 1 in 88 children and adults affected. People are urged to wear blue today to display autism puzzle piece pins on their clothing, and mainly to install blue light bulbs in their windows, patios, porches and balconies.

I’m not sure yet I’ll personally be doing to celebrate, its spring break and we don’t have any plans today, but I might just dress the boys and myself in blue and go to Home Depot to buy a blue light bulb and put in out on the patio and light it up tonight. Other than that I’ll try to be active on Facebook and twitter.

Come on:




Check out this page:

Autism Speaks: http://www.lightitupblue.org/Markslist/home.do

Light it up blue pdf: http://www.lightitupblue.org/Markslist/documents/resources/2012%20LIUB%20Participation%20Packet.pdf

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