Friday, May 4, 2012

I got me some horses to ride on...to ride on... - May 4, 2012

I am always looking for new things for my kid to try if it will help her in some way. If it's noninvasive and affordable and accessible to us, I'll give it a shot. I've been hemming and hawing about hippotherapy for months now. Possibly years. I definitely wanted hippotherapy to be a part of our repertoire, but until very recently I didn't sit down and actually make the calls and fill out the paperwork. A few weeks ago I did, and yesterday she had her first session.

I had been warned by a few people that it was possible she'd be afraid. She wouldn't necessarily want to pet a horse, nevermind go anywhere near one. However, I know my fearless daughter and I wasn't worried. A few weeks before I started the process, we took her to watch a friend's (neurotypical) daughter ride. My kid squealed and waved and petted that horse right on the nose. Yeah, I wasn't worried.

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I didn't need to be. In fact, I could barely hold onto her once the pony was brought out all saddled up. My daughter twisted and turned in my arms as she reached reached REACHED to get near that horse. We handed her over to the therapists (warm, wonderful, delightful therapists!) and, well...she was the happiest I've seen her in a long time. In fact, these sessions last as long as they need to and as long as the kid cooperates, and my daughter did NOT want to stop riding. At all. At the end of the session she let the horse give her a kiss and a hand-nibble.

And I noticed immediate results. I did not get the miracle I am always hoping for, admittedly. Sometimes I believe that this is the thing that's going to make her stand up and walk across the room like a scene in the movie. That's not reality. But she felt stronger, immediately. Her babble seemed more organized, her words had a new clarity. Yet the bottom line was that SHE LIKES THIS - so if we simply look at it as an afterschool activity like any other kid might do, that's plenty for me. But it's also therapeutic, and that is just amazing.

So now there's PT, OT, speech - in school and out - and hippotherapy. We're on a waiting list to get evaluated for an AAC device too, and I have great hopes for that path as well. We'll swim a lot this summer and maybe someday I'll get her into aquatherapy too. We're moving forward, and she's moving forward. Her teacher recently showed us the incredible progress she made from last year to this year (based on one of those formal tests, of course - all the little numbers/percentiles went UP UP UP). Progress. It's all I can ask for. It's all I want. And it's wonderful.

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