Friday, September 28, 2012

The whiteboard - all-in-arena solution!

Usually it is difficult to present the visual stimuli to my children inside the arena. Depending on the symbolic level of the child, we can do that task using a photo, PCS symbol, drawing, etc. It is not practical to have the different visual stimuli on our hands.
I have a small and rectangular whiteboard with a frame which allows me to pin anything there:
-Isolated images - naming task, describing pictures, object-image matching, etc
-Set of images - sentence building, sequencing task, etc
-Imans - movable letters, magnetic items, etc
I have always some whiteboard marker on my trunk - they must be thick and with different colors. To draw with them can be a fun and engaging task to both children and therapist -sometimes the results are very funny (especially when I draw horses jumping). Drawing is more flexible and perhaps faster than search pre prepared visual stimuli (such as plastified action images). It is also easy to erase, and children loves to do that with their hands! The activities can vary among object-drawing matching, image-drawing matching, sentence building, etc. We can write, and not just draw, as well. From the children viewpoint, it can be useful to attain some goals to ask the child to draw something - it can be challenging on horseback! The whiteboard can be supported by the horse's rump with the children turned back.
Tomorrow I will post some photos!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Saddlebag - a versatile material

Today I'm going to introduce you a material that I like a lot and is very useful. The saddlebag is composed by two bags - a bag on each side of the horse. It can be placed in front of the saddle or surcingle. Depending on the goal, it can be placed backward too. Mine has two hooks and two strips to attach it, as you can see in the picture below.

It is very versatile - we can use it in many activities. We can fill it with images or other visual stimuli so the child can name it and give to other person or do the image-object matching. We can ask to the child with autism to give us the object we ask (eg, mini brushes) wich he isn't actually seeing (a difficult task to some guys). The occupational therapist can adapt it with other locks (eg, button, velcro, shoelaces, etc) to achieve their goals. The child can transfer the asked object from one pocket to another. These are just some examples. The therapists can also save the material inside to next activity. You can associate the right bag to the tasks already done and left to the tasks which are not  done yet - for example, the child must pick up a picture from the left bag, name it (or something different)!  and put it in right bag. Beyond language/speech goals we are working sequential memory, improving attention and laterality.
I have been observing a funny thing: some children are afraid to put their hands in the pockets!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Activity #1 - Articulation placement on horseback

There is a fun game I use to implement in my EAT sessions, mainly with speech sound disorders. This activity is very flexible and is based on the positive and negative reinforcement - it is not just to articulatory therapy.
So, here it is:
After warming up (the child, the horse and us) we are able to start the activity. The arena just need to have the platform transition and the start point. The star point must be identified with something like a pole. All of us must be in the start point and this is the perfect time to explain to the child (and perhaps to the leader) how the game will run. The rules are simple: each time the child reaches a goal (like a well produced target sound, word, sentence, etc) the horse will move five steps forward counted aloud. If the child doesn't do it well (perhaps because is not paying attention) the horse will move two steps backward counted aloud. The game goal is to reach the end point (which can be the same as start) in shortest time.
As you can see it is very easy to perform and can be very exciting!