Life Is a Therapy

During almost all ABA workshops I attended when Robert was younger, I heard the same message,” One should invest time, effort , and money in those therapies that have scientific backing of a double blinded research.”  Only ABA therapy withstood such criterion. Other therapies did not. There is in doubt that those  first months if not years of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy changed my son’s life, by providing some sort of clarity and orientation in the chaotically unapproachable world. There is no doubt about that. On the other hand all the complexities, variations, tastes, shapes, and forms of life cannot be addressed in even thousand discrete trails. Providing enriching activities outside the discrete trail format is even more important for children who, like my son, are more developmentally impacted as it is harder from them to “feel” the world without more or less systematic introduction to it.

Except, the world is not widely open to children/young people like Robert.  Robert,too, is not ready to jump into any program designed with “typical” children in mind.  We had to find adaptive programs, that would match Robert’s needs.  Moreover, just placing adjective “adaptive” in front of the name of the activity, doesn’t  make it suitable for Robert.

Not without problems we found adaptive skiing, adaptive swimming, and therapeutic horseback riding….

Did I say, “Therapeutic?”

Well, yes, because I  call an activity therapeutic if during its duration Robert’s behavior seems undistinguishable from that of his typical peers. I don’t look for the lasting effect as I wouldn’t be able to asses it correctly. I am only interested in the immediate outcome.

Because every activity that reduces or eliminates Robert’s self – stimulatory behaviors is already therapeutic.  Every activity that results in gaining new perspective and learning new skills has to be considered therapeutic for Robert.  The more often he does “typical things” in “typical” manner the more “typical” he becomes.  So for Robert not only horseback riding is therapeutic.  Swimming, skiing, biking, hiking, and many other activities are therapeutic as well.