Tag Archives: physical therapy

Dance/Movement Therapy with the Children at Easter Seals

By, Michelle Baxley – Dance/Movement Therapy Intern at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center – SEPA

“What is dance/movement therapy? I’ve never heard of it.” Most often that is the reaction I get when people find out I am getting my masters in dance/movement therapy (DMT) and counseling. It’s an understandable question, as DMT is still a rather new field. DMT sits under the umbrella of the creative arts therapies with art therapy, music therapy, and drama therapy. Since its conception in the 1940s, DMT has grown into an internationally recognized therapy with its own national organization and is recognized as an accredited masters program in several universities around the world.

Here is some information to help you better understand DMT and its application to Easter Seals:

  1. What is dance/movement therapy?

The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines DMT as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual” (ADTA.org). What this really means is that dance/movement therapists use movement as a way to assess a person’s level of functioning in a variety of areas as well as using movement as an intervention tool to help an people reach their developmental goals. The end goal is ultimately to better integrate a person’s body and mind.

  1. How do you become a dance/movement therapist?

To become a dance/movement therapist you must complete a two-year master’s program in dance/movement therapy from an ADTA accredited university. Once you receive your master’s degree, you must complete a certain number of clinical working hours with supervision and then you may apply to become a Board Certified dance/movement therapist. I am currently finishing my second year of graduate school at Drexel University and have been interning at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center for the past nine months.

  1. My child has limited movement and is nonverbal. How could he/she benefit from dance/movement therapy?

If you think about it, everyone, even those with the most limited movement abilities, moves in some capacity. Movement is our first language. It is the first way infants explore the world through rolling over, reaching for various objects, and moving objects to and from their mouths and then to potentially crawling and walking. Even a head nod or the gesture of a hand is a movement. Dance/movement therapists use this movement, however small, as a means of nonverbally communicating with the child. We create a personal relationship with the child through movement and help that child find other forms of creative expression besides words.

  1. How does dance/movement therapy help my child at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center?

At Easter Seals Early Intervention Center, I use dance/movement therapy to help students create social interactions with peers; practice problem solving, turn taking, and listening; explore creativity in play; facilitate emotional expression; and promote self and emotional regulation all in a playful and creative environment. All of my goals for these children are aimed at helping them transition into kindergarten. Additionally, I work with the other occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, and music therapists to provide a more holistic treatment approach.

  1. Where can I learn more about dance/movement therapy?

Websites:

  • American Dance Therapy Association –

www.adta.org

      ●      National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations, Inc –

http://www.nccata.org/

  • Drexel University Master’s in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling

http://drexel.edu/cnhp/academics/graduate/MA-Dance-Movement-Therapy-Counseling

Books:

  • Levy, F. J., Fried, J. P., & Leventhal, F. (Eds.) (1995). Dance and other expressive arts therapies. London: Routledge.
  • Naess Lewin, J. L. (1998). Dance therapy notebook. Washington, DC: American Dance Therapy Association.
  • Sandel, S. L., Chaiklin, S., & Lohn, A. (Eds.) (1993). Foundations of dance/movement Therapy: The life and work of Marian Chace. Washington, DC: American Dance Therapy Association.

Videos:

While DMT is still a young field, it is definitely growing and increasing its body of research every year. It’s a versatile therapy that can be adapted for any population. If you have more questions feel free to email me at mbaxley@easterseals-sepa.org.

Happy Moving,

Michelle Baxley,
Dance/Movement Therapy Intern at Easterseals Early Intervention Center – SEPA

Meet Lila and Emma

by Melanie O’Brien

Lila_and_Emma_1

Lila and Emma are 4-year-old twins whose personalities are as different as night and day. What they do have in common, aside from being adorable, is autism. In addition to autism, they each have unique needs and challenges. Lila, whose needs are more physical, began receiving services when she was about 3-months-old. Her therapists noticed that Emma, whose needs are more medical, might benefit from Early Intervention services for some feeding issues she was having. When it was time for the girls to transition to center-based services, a therapist recommended Easter Seals. Lila and Emma began attending the Early Intervention Center last year. Since they have started, Lila went from not talking, to stringing three words together very quickly. Emma is now starting to use some words. Both girls were given communication devices, that with such amazing progress, they have almost outgrown. Their cognitive skills are really growing and Lila and Emma are becoming quite social! When they aren’t busy wowing their parents, teachers and therapists with their progress, they are busying doing the things all 4-year-olds love. Together, they watch favorite shows, which include Bubble Guppies and Daniel Tiger and enjoying their favorite snack, Goldfish. Emma is big fan of technology. She loves to dance, especially in a twirly skirt. Emma may be Minnie Mouse’s biggest fan. Her wonderful sense of humor and love of laughter means you will often find her with a smile. Lila loves to read, Mickey Mouse is a favorite subject. She is a very affectionate little girl who loves to learn. Her quiet demeanor allows her to happily soak in the world around her. Emma and Lila are beautiful examples of how two girls can look similar, but be so uniquely beautiful.

Join Lila and Emma and all of the Honorary Ambassadors on June 4th at the zoo for our Walk With Me event!

Meet Janiya and Dymir

Janiya_Damir_web

Janiya and Dymir are brother and sister, they would also call themselves best friends. The first few years of their lives were unstable and challenging for Janiya, 11 and Dymir, 12, who also have developmental delays. Today, with the support of their loving mother and the therapists at Easter Seals, they are doing fantastic. Janiya and Dymir are students at a cyber charter school and once a week Janiya receives Speech and Occupational Therapy, Dymir was also receiving the same therapies until recently. With the help of Easter Seals therapists, they have both improved their fine motor skills and their speech, which has led to greater self-confidence. When they come in for therapy, they literally run into the building, which is a wonderful testament to their experience. When they aren’t in school or therapy, they are doing typical kid stuff. Janiya is a Girl Scout and loves to dance. Dymir is a Boy Scout and he especially loves the camping trips. Together, they enjoy riding their bikes and seeing who can bounce the highest on a pogo stick. Janiya wants to be a police officer when she grows up and Dymir wants to be a firefighter. They have an energy that is inspiring and captivating and we can’t wait for you to meet them!

Meet Janiya and Dymir at Walk With Me on June 4th. Visit our Walk With Me website to register or learn more.

Meet Georgia

by Melanie O’Brien

georgia 1_web

When sweet 4-year-old Georgia was born, everything seemed pretty typical. However, when she was about 10-months old, her mom noticed her eyes seemed to be twitching and she wasn’t meeting her milestones. Georgia has a partial trisomy 14 disorder. She began receiving home-based services, including occupational, physical and speech therapies and special education. When Georgia turned 3, she started attending Easter Seals Early Intervention Center for half-days. She was doing well and it was quickly determined that she would really benefit from full-days in the Approved Private School program in the Yaffe Center. Since then, she has gone from a quiet and shy to very social! Georgia loves going to school and has become very interested in the world around her. She is initiating play, trying to dress herself and going up and down steps. When she isn’t at school, Georgia is playing with her sisters and taking advantage of all the museums and cultural opportunities that Philly has to offer. Georgia loves color and to laugh and she is painting the world with her beautiful smile!

Meet Georgia and the other Honorary Ambassadors at Walk With Me on June 4th at the Philadelphia Zoo. You can learn more and register at www.walkwithme.org/philadelphia.

Early Intervention from a Parent’s Perspective

My daughter was adopted from an Armenian orphanage at 10 months of age. She had no use of her right arm because her nerves were severed as a result of a birth injury.

Picture one

Just before her 1st birthday, she had nerve graft surgery at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Following surgery, she began PT, OT, and Language/Play therapy through Easter Seals. I had previously learned of Early Intervention through the adoption community and contacted them as soon as we returned to the States.

Picture two

The evaluation was nonthreatening and, in many ways, reassuring. The evaluators played with my baby and talked with me. I had confidence in their assessment and the support that they would provide. My daughter actually enjoyed the evaluation process, and once she qualified for services, I was an active participant in the goal setting. They listened to my concerns and addressed them.

Therapy continues to be an extremely positive experience on numerous levels. My daughter engages happily with her therapists, who accommodate our schedule and work with her both at home and/or her daycare program. Services began at home and moved on to daycare when she did. Not only do they fit therapeutic ideas into our routine, such as playtime and bath time, but they also demonstrate ways in which her daycare teachers can reinforce her goals.

Picture three

My daughter started therapy in late August, and I am very encouraged by the progress she has made thus far. Her therapists truly care about her, and they persevere through her cranky moments, as well as celebrate her accomplishments. Through play, they are helping her reach her potential, and it is gratifying to witness their dedication and commitment. I am so grateful for the quality of care that my little one is receiving through Early Intervention Services and Easter Seals, and I commend them for providing, so graciously, such vital therapies. It is a blessing that these services exist to enhance the quality of life for children with special needs.

Facing Power Struggles

by Kathryn Wallace

As a Physical Therapist at Easter Seals, I work one on one with children. This can lead to  power struggles because I am challenging a child to strengthen his/her body in a variety of different ways.

This article is a great reminder that power struggle exists. It is always important to remember that we all need to keep classroom and home environments free of loud/angry voices and intimidating postures. Also, using consistent language and realistic rewards for behavior helps build trust. By gaining trust, we can make positive, lasting changes in the lives of all the children we work with. One of the great ways we are doing that is through Positive Behavior Supports.

Learn more about power struggles here.

The Beauty of Toy Organization!

by Kathryn Wallace

I am an Early Intervention Physical Therapist who works with children from birth to 2 years of age in their natural environment. I wanted to share these easy tips to keeping playtime more organized and purposeful. For me, it leads to more productive Physical Therapy sessions in the home.

Each set of toys has a place.
  • The child, pictured above, knows where to put the toys away. For example, each of the stacking cups and books are in separate bins.
Make sure the toys are accessible and the child can see all of the toys when he/she looks into the bin.
  • A toy box filled with smaller toys is very overwhelming for a child. Instead, put dress up or larger stuffed animals in there.
Less is better
  • Children learn through play. When they are presented with too many toys they have a tendency throw or dump the toys. It is important to sit down and teach a child how to use the toy. The child will attend better if there are fewer options.

Meet Nicolas

Walk With Me is next weekend and the energy is really picking up! Nicolas is one of the Honorary Ambassadors we are so excited that he will be part the Walk. Make sure you go here to register so you can be a part of this powerful day!

Meet Nicolas….

Nicolas

Nicolas is a very happy 4 year old! He has microcephaly and has been defying the odds since the day he was born, which explains his sweet smile. His mom was told that he would not be able to drink from a bottle or use a pacifier, but fortunately for Nicholas, his mom believed he might defy the odds…and she was right! He began receiving services at 3 months old and when it time for center –based services, Nicholas came to Easter Seals, just as his parents had hoped he would. Since then, he has become more aware of his surroundings, he loves to be social and his personality is really shining through. Most importantly, his parents know he is loved, which they say makes a huge difference! When he is not in school, Nicolas loves playing with his big brother Evan, and his dog Giselle. He absolutely loves country music! When you meet Nicolas, it will be easy to see why he is so loved!

Why I participate in Walk

by Bill Barnes

Can’t. When I was asked to share my story as we prepare for Walk With Me 2015, the one word that kept coming back to me was can’t. My name is Bill Barnes and when I was born I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. You see as I was growing up my Dad would often say to me that can’t wasn’t in the dictionary. His point to me was that he didn’t want to hear me say I ”couldn’t” do something. Since most of the times he said this I was in the midst of doing exercises and physical therapy, I was not too fond of that saying! Over many years I realized that he was hoping to set me up for a lifetime of success. I never really looked to see if can’t really was in the dictionary, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was!

So at some point I realized it’s not what you can’t do that’s important it’s what you can. Much of that was due to my parents, but the other part to that equation was Easter Seals. I began at Easter Seals as a very young child in the preschool program and also participated in the summer camp program. I also received much more physical therapy than I ever wanted. What I know now is what I can do in my life today has a lot to do with what Easter Seals did for me when I was younger. If they hadn’t pushed me who knows if I’d be a middle school teacher like I am today.

As I got older I began to understand what Easter Seals did for me and I wanted to give back to them as much as I could. Eventually, I became a camp counselor and a Camp Director for Easter Seals. I got to see firsthand how the therapists and teachers at Easter Seals are still striving to show children what they can do. I got to see how they work with each individual child to make sure they are the success that they can be. Just as importantly, I got to do the same for scores of children through the summer camp program. While the camp program no longer exists the magic of social media allows me to see the successes “my kids” have become. We all still call ourselves the Easter Seals family.

Just this past week, two things happened that reminded me how important Easter Seals has been in my life. I recently reconnected via social media with one of my first physical therapists. While wishing me a happy birthday she reminded me how much I “loved” coming to see her. None of the messages I received meant more because I know what she meant to my life. Then later in the week while at an alumni weekend event at my alma mater, Temple University, I was stopped in the middle of campus by a former camper of mine. I absolutely beamed as he told me of the great things he was doing.

I participate in Walk With Me each year because I have seen and been a part of the great work that Easter Seals does. The therapists, teachers, social workers and many others care so much about the children they work with. Their number one goal is to focus on what each child can do – and I know that someday they will look back with pride seeing the successes those children have become because of the work they do. Take it from me, there is no greater feeling!

Bill with Easter Seals parent and volunteer Jeannine Hesser

Bill with Easter Seals parent and volunteer Jeannine Hesser

Among friends

by Susan Lowenstein

As we approach the gym, we hear laughing and the beautiful sound of children playing. Ajay turns his wheelchair – teenage mutant ninja turtle green in color, by his choice – adeptly to the left and steers it easily into the gym. He sees many familiar faces in the gym – not those of his classmates, but of his school mates, and he eagerly propels his chair towards them, his curiosity peaked. He wants to see what they are doing, and does not want to miss out on the fun.

As I follow him closely, I see that these friends are walking and jumping and climbing and swinging easily and independently in the gym. Ajay quickly propels his wheelchair towards the group of children that are swinging on the platform swing. He loves to swing, and when he first started attending school and missed his family at home, it is the only thing that would console him. So it makes sense that his eyes gravitate towards the children that are enjoying his favorite pastime, so to speak. Or as our OT’s may call it, his favorite sensory experience.

Never was there a better motivator for Ajay than his able bodied peers enjoying the gym, or enjoying a turn on what he might consider his own prized possession, the platform swing! So I know this is my chance to get him to work – and I offer him a chance to swing – but only if he will try to walk to get there. Ajay is up for challenge, so quickly we get to work.

I retrieve his long leg braces and his walker from the hallway, and before long, Ajay is on the floor, cooperating easily with the tedious process of putting these braces on his legs. He is quite familiar with this routine, and I am amazed at his dedication. He does not refuse, cry or complain. He willingly complies with my requests to “scoot down” , “lie back” as I work to carefully don the braces and ensure a proper fit. All of a sudden, Ajay and I notice we have an audience. One little inquisitive boy named Ryan wants to get a closer look at Ajay’s long leg braces and even offers to help with the Velcro straps. Another friend Andrew asks freely “Why does Ajay need these braces?” . Their curiosity is obvious, their questions are matter-of-fact. After a brief explanation of why Ajay needs braces (“His muscles don’t work the way yours do, so he needs extra support to stand and walk”). Ajay’s friends seem satisfied with these answers and turn their attention to more pressing matters – like the fact that all 3 boys are wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirts!!! All the boys seem to agree that Andrew’s shirt is the coolest because it has actual googly eyes glued to it!

After agreement about the coolest shirt, it is back to work (and play) for Ajay. His friends Ryan and Andrew quickly jump up to their feet to head over the swing. Once I ensure that all of Ajay’s brace joints are locked for stability, I help him attain a standing position and he reaches out for his walker. It takes about 3-4 minutes for Ajay to take 10 steps with my help to reach his friends at the platform swing. Each step is a lot of work for Ajay. He has to lean on his walker with both arms and lift the weight of his lower body and long leg braces against gravity so he can swing them forwards. It is no easy task, but with his friends encouraging him from the swing, Ajay remains steadfast in his determination to walk. Little do his friends know how thankful I am to have them in the room – they are providing the motivation for Ajay to get up onto his feet!

True to my promise, I allow Ajay a nice long turn in his swing after he worked so hard to get there!!!! And the icing on the cake is that he gets to share the swing with his friend Ryan! The smile on all of their young faces while they swing together is a true reminder to me why I work at Easter Seals. I love to watch these kids understand their differences in abilities as well as enjoying what they have in common, which today is threefold: 1) loving the swing, 2) wearing their favorite Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt, and 3) enjoying time on the swing with a friend