I am constantly reminded of the therapeutic value of skating. Figure skating is like six or eight different therapies rolled into one. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, the HANDLE approach, Brain Gym, speech/language/communication therapy, and RDI(r) in terms of "guided participation. Maybe there's a balance therapy in there, too, but I don't know the name of a balance therapy. Active participation, development of self, co-regulation, coordination, joint attention, experience sharing, resilience, hand/eye coordination, foot/eye coordination, motor planning...that's a short list of "stuff" that figure skating touches in terms of development.
The rink was colder this week than it has been all summer, and I have to wonder if that plays into "good" days on the ice. The temperature is certainly sensory, maybe even tactile.
She and Coach did a little work at the boards...
For a child on the autism spectrum, who doesn't have a good sense of where she is in space (proprioception), working body parts without looking at them can be challenging. Some children don't know where their feet are, and when they're asked to move their feet in a particular way, they have to LOOK at their feet in order to know where they are.
Individuals on the autism spectrum tend to compensate for the lack of proprioception by using their vision to tell them where they are. Figure skating requires feeling where your feet are in space without looking at them. Looking down at the feet throws off balance and center of gravity. You need to look forward to skate.
Coach is brilliant! She used a squishy ball (one that we see in every OT clinic in the country) on the ice to have my princess skate to it and pick it up while working on looking forward and not down. I know that Coach is targeting beginner skills that are building blocks for more complicated skating techniques, but at the same time, she is targeting the sense of knowing where you are in space without using your vision to tell you.
And, as always, some snippets(they're short!) of video.
There is another child and another coach on the ice, just out of camera range, and the comments you hear on this video are about the other student: