There is one thing that every single therapeutic professional I’ve encountered has counseled me to do. Everyone from Atti’s neonatologist to other mom’s I bump into at therapy. Every single person who knows has told me to get Atticus into the REINS program.
Similar programs exist around the nation, but we’re lucky enough to have a first-class therapeutic hippotherapy organization about 20 minutes up the freeway.
Hippotherapy sounds fancy, but it’s simply horse therapy. They take kids who have any number of disabilities, Cerebral Palsy like Atticus, ADD, Autism, Vision or Hearing impairments, Down Syndrome, kids recovering from accidents, or even just an unspecified developmental delay, and give them time riding a horse. The benefits are myriad. Often kids who are unresponsive to people will open up to an animal. It’s great for core strengthening and muscle stretching. Feeling the rhythm of the horse’s steps is great input for someone like Atti who needs to tell his feet how to move in a different way from the rest of us, and it’s a way of doing intensive physical therapy in a way that is fun instead of painful.
Some kids get scared their first time, but I knew Atti would take right to it. The instructors commented on how he had no fear. Notice how he even keeps up his steady flirting while trying to keep himself upright.
And listen to him giggle! Oh the good that does my heart!
When our time was up they walked Atti into the tack room to get some carrots and fed our pony Pancho a treat to say thanks for his hard work. Atti dug both hands right into his hair and sweet little Pancho didn’t even flinch.
This day was so wonderful, watching my little guy have so much fun and gain some independence on a beautiful clear day in the country, surrounded by orange and apple trees growing fruit for the kids to feed the horses. I just felt like I’d left my hectic overcommitted life and found a moment of peace. My cup feels full. I think this is going to turn out to be therapeutic for Atti and me.