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BellaOnline's Special Education Editor

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Additional Therapy Options for Special Needs Children

Guest Author - Susan Hart

Children in special education would usually benefit from more therapy than what they are currently receiving. Many parents and teachers wonder what the options there are for further therapy outside their child’s regular therapy sessions. There are other options for therapy that can be done in an individual or group setting. Thus, school field trips could be taken which would give students greater therapeutic experiences. Parents also have the option of private sessions for their children. The following are some forms of therapy that can be done individually or in a group.

Hippotherapy
Hippotherapy has been proven to provide great results for children. This form of therapy involves children with disabilities riding horses as therapy. It helps to improve balance and muscle tone. Children with Hippotherapy do not necessarily learn how to ride the horse as an equestrian would. Instead, the therapist often uses unconventional positions on the horse including having the child sit backwards or lie down on the horse. This gives the child great sensory input as well as practice in balancing. This therapy is especially beneficial for those with gross motor deficiencies.

Dolphin-Assisted Therapy
This type of therapy produces similar results as those seen with hippotherapy. This type of therapy combines two elements children generally enjoy—animals and water. Many parents and therapists say they see not only physical improvements in their children involved in dolphin-assisted therapy, they also claim to see improvements in language and communication.

Swimming Therapy
Swimming therapy offers disabled persons the opportunity to make normal movements while providing different types of resistance. Many people find that therapy in water is easier because their movements become more free and fluid. In general, water tends to help relax the muscles, so movement becomes easier. Thus, those with disabilities are able to feel how their muscles can and should move.

Gymnastics
Although most special needs children would have a difficult time performing typical gymnastics moves, they can greatly benefit from using the apparatuses found in gymnasiums. Trampolines provide sensory stimulation as well as muscle stimulation. Gymnastics mats allow children to walk on surfaces that compress when they walk on them. This provides good resistance, which helps build muscle. Using the uneven bars, whether assisted or unassisted, helps children build upper body strength. Sitting, jumping into, and climbing out of a pit filled with foam squares provides great sensory input and excellent physical exercise. Parents and teachers often comment that they have a hard time climbing out of the foam pit, so they are amazed when special needs students attempt to climb out.

The effectiveness of hippotherapy for children with language-learning disabilities.: An article from: Communication Disorders Quarterly

THE PROMISE OF DOLPHIN-ASSISTED THERAPY.: An article from: Parks & Recreation
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American Hippotherapy Association
Dolphin-Assisted Healing for Physical Disability
Swimming for Special Needs
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Content copyright © 2014 by Susan Hart. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan Hart. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Celestine A. Jones for details.

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