Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding will look much more like a horseback riding lesson, with your child sitting in a saddle and riding around a ring. There may be volunteers leading the horse and someone else helping your child stay on as the therapist or instructor gives commands that involve stretching, pointing, playing games, answering questions, and learning how to work with the horse.

In addition to developing the focus needed to ride and direct a large animal, therapeutic riding can improve muscle tone and strength through the torso.

Both hippotherapy and therapeutic riding are designed for children with disabilities, and both require a doctor's permission before your child will be accepted. Frequently, both have a waiting list.

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International certifies riding programs for both hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. To find a center that offers these therapies in your area, search the PATH International website. You can also contact local stables or call hospitals or universities in your area that offer programs for children with special needs.

During therapeutic riding, your child may interact with another rider and may engage in activities like throwing and catching balls or leaning over to pick up objects. All this will be done with someone holding on to him, so don't worry about falls!

Therapy in the Water

While water can serve to calm children with sensory integration disorder, it can also be intensely stimulating for them — so stimulating for some that they're unable to observe normal safety precautions because they're so intent on interacting exuberantly with all that wonderful fluid. You may have trouble keeping your child safe in ordinary swimming sessions or keeping her from splashing and bumping other children in mainstream swim classes. Both aquatic therapy and special-needs swim lessons can take advantage of the special properties of water while taking care of your child's safety.

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