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Lucy – Her equine therapy journey, as told by her mum

Equine Therapy with ChildVision

Lucy started therapy at 2 years and 9 months. Lucy was diagnosed with a micro deletion on the long arm of Chromosome 6 at point 26q. It is very rare and there are only 23 documented cases of it. We have yet to join the group Unique, sure no two cases would be the same anyway, as it depends on what specific genetic markers that are hit which determine the overall outlook for the child. Lucy has a mild developmental delay, she is verbal and uses Lamh and has just started to put one or two words together. Lucy has hip dysplasia and had surgery on her right hip, which required being in a cast for 14 weeks. Lucy is not standing or walking yet. It was just after she got the cast off that Lucy had her first assessment for Equine therapy with Childvision. This is a weekly log of how she gets on.

ASSESSMENT

Terry was very positive on the phone so I was really looking forward to meeting the team. Lucy had become very clingy with me as a result of being restricted in the cast, and very wary especially with new experiences and situations. When we arrived Ruby and Thomas who were looking after the horses were very friendly and very reassuring with Lucy even though she was terrified of the horses looking over the doors. Terry asked me all about Lucy and explained about how things work and what their ethos was etc. and it was decided that they would start Lucy off on a horse called Cody.

Lucy was a little teary and tentative when she first met Audrey with Cody but all I can say is that Audrey is gifted she looked Lucy in the eye and gently explained everything and that she would put a yellow strap on her and then get on the horse. Audrey was on one side and Sarah and I were on the other. Lucy’s core and head control were quite weak at first. Her hat had a bobble on it and I noticed how much it was bobbling up and down as they trotted but she settled very quickly into it. Lucy looked at me a lot for reassurance but Audrey had definitely gained her trust. She put a few rings on the posts and was taught how to get Cody to go by tapping him. A really lovely touch is that Audrey sang a little song to her as they were trotting and this really calmed her.

We had a lovely afternoon after meeting Gill in the charity shop and after having a chat we went over and had a lovely lunch. I went home feeling elated.

Lucy slept that afternoon and like a log that night. She played a bit more with her toy horses and had them kissing each other. I showed her the video of her on Cody and she was delighted with herself, and seemed to be happier in herself and more forthcoming with her speech and babbling away.

LUCY’S 1st SESSION

I couldn’t believe that when we pulled into the car park that Lucy seemed to recognise where she was. I asked her did she want to see Cody and she said yes and was really excited. When we got to the stables she seemed more relaxed and didn’t fret as much when the horses looked over the half doors. There were no tears but she was still a little hesitant getting the strap on and getting on the horse but again Audrey explained everything to her. I was very surprised that she remembered how to tap Cody to move. Terry explained that they would be working on her separation anxiety as she was stuck like a limpet to me while she was in her cast. She asked me to hang back this time and a girl Sarah took my place the other side of the horse along with Audrey. Lucy didn’t even look back for me in fact she responded so well that they took her off on a trek and I followed. Lucy only looked for me once. Audrey explained that Lucy was doing more of the work this time and really enjoyed looking for the toy dinosaurs. She said a new word clearly which was ‘Go’ her attempts before this was ‘Doe’. When we were driving home I asked her did she enjoy looking for the dinosaurs and she said yes and when I asked her what colour it was she attempted yellow. In the days that followed Lucy’s confidence seemed to have soared even her Physiotherapist said that she seemed more willing to try everything she tried with her. Lucy was making more sounds and making more attempts at words. She also wasn’t as clingy as I was able to leave her in the front room and go and make a cup of coffee for the first time in a long time. Lucy also didn’t seem to be as afraid of dogs.

LUCY’S 2ND SESSION

Lucy definitely knew where she was going and when we pulled up she was looking all around in total recognition. She got up on the horse and I could definitely tell that she was sitting up straighter. Again I walked behind at a distance and I could hear Audrey and Sarah chatting away to Lucy and she was answering back. Lucy never looked back for me at all this time. I met a lovely lad that had done work experience with horses and he was telling me that it was such a positive experience for him and that it had influenced him to go to work with helping people in some capacity or other. Lucy said another new word during this session ‘Water’.

After this session I could really see a difference in Lucy she was chatting more, moving more and seemed even more tuned in. When I was in toddler group I was able to leave her playing in the middle of the floor and leave her to her own devices people couldn’t get over the difference in her. Anywhere I went I was able to leave her with someone to go to the counter or the toilet without her crying. When we were picking up my son Ryan from school she gestured towards a dog, so I said do you want to see the dog and she said ‘yes’ this was definitely a first so we went over and while she was still afraid of any movement from the dog we were able to stay in the vicinity. The icing on the cake this week was that Lucy was in her additional needs group on Friday sitting at a table when she got up off the chair and stood I couldn’t believe my eyes and when everyone cheered she kept doing it to show off, it was incredible six weeks out of cast after being in it for 14 such a pivotal moment I was so proud of her.

LUCY’S 3RD SESSION

During the week Lucy sat on a little push car and was able to push herself backwards and forwards using her legs I definitely think this strength and inclination is as a result of the Equine therapy. When she was in toddler group this morning she was also going from sitting to standing at the activity table. It was their first time to ever see her stand so needless to say we had another emotional moment. When we arrived at the stables today we had to wait a little while for our turn. There were two dogs there and normally Lucy would be hysterical around a dog but she wasn’t so bad I am so delighted with her progress as I would like her to get over this fear as Ryan our 6 year old would love us to get a dog. Lucy got on Cody and this time she only needed Sarah with her. She was definitely sitting up straighter and her head control was much better. I could hear her chatting back and forth with Sarah and it struck me how unusual this was for me to hear her having a conversation with someone outside of the immediate family. I couldn’t get over how Lucy actually sat backwards on the horse and was lying down on the horse. Audrey explained how it worked her core and the sensory experience it was amazing to watch. Lucy said the word water very clearly today and the word hill. I am excited to see how Lucy progresses throughout the rest of the week.

LUCY’S 4TH SESSION

When we arrived I asked Lucy was she excited to see Cody and she did a ‘giddy gesture’ and said ‘have fun’. She has never said this before and rarely puts two words together. Kayla the dog was there again this week and Lucy was definitely not as afraid of the dog, he was able to come closer to her whereas she used to be terrified of the sight of one. Audrey felt that Lucy should progress onto a bigger horse for a different sensory experience so along came Buddy. Lucy wasn’t one bit afraid she went up on the horse with Audrey no problem. I could hear them talking about the colour of the rings with her and she was beginning to make a better attempt at saying the word yellow. When we were on the trek there was a cat up on the wall and Sarah asked her what it was and she said the word cat whereas she would usually say ‘meow’ or do the sign for cat. I had been working on c and k sounds with her so this was fantastic. We had a visit from Lucy’s speech therapist this week and it was a few weeks since she had seen Lucy and she could not get over the difference in her. She said it is like everything is beginning to click as she is better at following instructions. She also remarked on her confidence and how she was attempting to say all of her words which are becoming clearer too. The speech therapist wants me to work on taking turns and two to three word sentences so I will say it to the girls. Lucy is gaining in confidence and independence, she is up on all fours a lot more when she is crawling, she comes down the stairs on her own lying down and she wants to stand a lot more and although she is still weak she is determined and getting stronger by the day.

LUCY’S 5TH SESSION

When I looked out of the window this morning sleet was falling and it was freezing but we still went for our session as it would take something extreme for the girls to cancel and I would bring Lucy in hail, rain or sunshine. Sometimes you have to wait a little for your session and the girls are very discreet and mindful of each child but it’s hard for me not to watch from afar and see how the other children react on the horses they seem to come alive on the horses and it’s just heart warming to see from the outside looking in. Lucy was on a horse called Fred this week, she progressed from Audrey being on the horse with her to being on all fours on the horse and lying down and sitting half up while she was backwards on the horse, you’d think I would be used to it by now but I still get emotional at times watching my little girl enjoying herself and also seeing how endearing the girls are with her. Lucy was with Audrey today and they were asking Lucy what the pictures were around the ring and she said kite and mouse for the first time. She also said the word doodle as Audrey was singing Yankee Doodle to her as they were trotting so she is starting to associate words to rhymes and actions. Lucy’s receptive language has definitely improved and I would say the equine therapy has played a big part in this.

 

LUCY’S 6TH SESSION

Lucy definitely knows where she is going as we arrive even last night when we asked would she like to see the horses she said yes and was getting very excited. A little boy Jack was having his session more or less at the same time as Lucy so Audrey decided to use this to our advantage as it would teach Lucy to take turns, so Jack would go around the rings first and then when he came back he would high five Lucy for her turn and vice versa this was great for her as she had to wait. As she was going around she said the words pole, yellow and three. When we went on the trek Lucy opened the purple box and there was a pizza inside, as Lucy was putting the topping on she said cheese and then attempted salami and broccoli for Audrey. Audrey gave Lucy the choice of the path or the hill and she said path. Audrey asked her where the fairies were and she pointed and said in there, Audrey remarked that this was very good she indicated with a point and spoke. Her progress has been remarkable she has a lot more confidence and is really trying hard to pull herself up to standing by herself. Her speech is also clearer and she is beginning to say two or three word sentences more.

LUCY’S 7TH SESSION – July 2020

Our last session was in early March before the arrival of the Corona virus. While we were in quarantine Audrey and Lucy had kept us in the loop with a Newsletter by email with information all about the horses etc and sensory and physical ideas by video to keep the children active. The Newsletter was priceless and we implemented a lot of the video ideas. One of our favourites was to make a sensory indoor garden that the children loved. Lucy wasn’t a bit worried about getting up on Cody after being away for so long and remembered right away how to get him to go. She chose to go through the water when she was given a choice as she remembered the way. She said the words ‘in we go’ and ‘up Cody’ so she is definitely putting words together now. She noticed the mirror on the way back and when she was in the ring she knew the words for horse, mouse and fish.

LUCY’S 8TH SESSION

One of the first things that Lucy said was Water to Audrey and wanted to go in and out of it a few times. She said leaf and five marbles and feet loose. She loves the fairy garden, they were sleeping in the bed today. Houses and a school are painted on the rocks, such a simple idea which we have robbed again for our garden hehe

LUCY’S 9TH SESSION

Lucy said bump when going around in circles on the horse. This weeks exercise was opening the boxes and collecting baby ducks she said duck and ‘whoa’ and ‘up up up’ and ‘down’ and she also said ‘splosh’ and ‘wow’ and ‘mask’ in the fairy garden. Lucy is encouraged to say the colour of the box and the colour of the ducks and is also asked whether they are big or small. This is right on point with her development as her home school teacher and I have been working on concepts only recently.

LUCY’S 10TH SESSION

This week there were coloured teddies in the boxes. Lucy is definitely better are saying and recognising the colours. She is also gaining in strength and confidence as she is much better at opening the doors and she will lean right in to get whatever is in the box. She said ‘close the door’, the word ‘trot’ and a longer sentence ‘I have an apple in my hand’. I was amazed as I had only said to Audrey and Lucy at the start of this session that speech and language were working on trying to get her to say longer sentences, and they were encouraging this.

LUCY’S 11TH SESSION

This week’s session involved taking coloured ducks from the boxes and throwing them into the pond. The girls had noted right away that Lucy had a preference for choosing and using her left hand, therefore they turned the horse around so she would have to throw with her right hand. Again developmentally they are on point as one of the developmental questions that I was asked by her home school teacher was can she throw a ball with both hands. It also inspired me to say it to her Support Worker to encourage her wherever possible to also use her right hand for writing, painting etc to build up the strength.

LUCY’S 12TH SESSION

This week’s session was about picking fruit from the boxes. They were in two parts so had to be stuck together again. Lucy was encouraged to say the names of the fruits and she got better as she went along at putting them back together again. She said ‘pull them apart’ and was chopping the fruit as she trotted. However the best thing to happen today was that Lucy leaned up and forward to shift herself back into the middle and she wanted to ‘stand’ up to see what was in the boxes.

Lucy comes alive on the horses. There has been a lot of firsts as in words, sentences, sitting up straight, walking up steps, taking control and expressions. She doesn’t have a fear of dogs as much and is getting better with separation anxiety. It definitely regulates her. Audrey and Lucy are very on point with what they work on with her at each session so my advice is not to be afraid to ask them why it works and to implement their ideas at home and in school as this is what will bring your child on, everyone working together.

13TH SESSION

Lucy had to collect coloured teddies from the boxes this week. She said the word ‘closer’ for the first time. She also said ‘wait, ‘more up there’, ‘I did it’, ‘close the door’, and ‘I have an apple in my hand’. Her speech has improved so much with putting more words together. Lucy always speaks so much more on the horse and to the girls, I have to say I still find it fascinating how she lights up.

14TH SESSION

In today’s session Lucy had to collect coloured ducks from the boxes. She initiated standing up to get up closer to find the ducks. When all of the ducks where collected Lucy had to throw the ducks into the ‘pond’. Lucy and Jason noticed that Lucy predominately chooses her left hand and was stronger and throwing with it, so they turned Cody around in order for her to choose and throw with her right hand. This in turn made me encourage her to do more things with her right hand and as a result she will not choose it more and it has strengthened up.

15TH SESSION

Today for the first time Lucy ‘shifted’ herself back into the middle when she was on Cody. At home she has started to sit up better and is now better able to fix herself up, whereas before hand she would always put her two hands up for us to fix her if she was slouched on the couch. She also wanted to stand again while looking into the boxes collecting the fruit and veg. She said ‘pull apart’ and gave a piece to Jenna and she loved chopping everything up with Jason.

16th SESSION

Lucy wanted to put her own strap on today. Again Lucy was ‘hooshing’ herself back into the middle on Cody. Today, it’s the clearest Lucy has ever been about expressing her own choices and she seemed to tolerate trotting more. I remember back to the day when the bobble on her hat used to bobble ‘like ninety’ but she seems more upright and sturdier now. Lucy had to look after a baby today and collect all he feeding stuff from the boxes, she able to name everything as in blanket, bottle, spoon etc.

17th SESSION

Lucy had to collect the pieces of a pizza today and put them all together. At home her core strength has improved as she sat up by herself when I was changing her nappy, it was such a moment as she has never done this before she even surprised herself.

18th SESSION

Jason designed a ‘worm game’ where you had to collect the coloured worms and out the in their box through the holes. Jason also played the traffic lights game with her today and they were doing all about road safety in pre-school and she knew that green was for go and red was for stop.

19th SESSION

Something magical happened today a real breakthrough. Lucy without any prompting said to Terry ‘I was in school today’ and then she saw a horse box and pointed to it ‘horse go on holidays?’ Terry did a 360 and turned around to look at me as if to say ‘are you getting this’ I just couldn’t believe that she was volunteering conversation off her own bat for the first time ever. Thank God for having to wear a mask as you would have seen me ‘ugly crying’ as it was I was blaming my sniffling on the cold weather. Jason asked her did she see the sun, she said ‘yes and I see the moon with Daddy’ and ‘I do colours at home’.

20th SESSION

It was a beach theme for therapy this week and Lucy was collecting sea shells and sea creatures, she said the colour white which I was surprised she knew as none of her toys are white. Jason complimented her on knowing her colours and she replied ‘I do it at home’.

 


21ST SESSION

Lucy had to collect money today and had to buy things with it in the shop. They were working on memory recall today. She said the word ‘coke’ and was able to recall most of the things that she had ‘bought’ at the end of the session. She was chatting away of her own volition and this has improved at home too where she is telling us and others more about what she is doing in school without being asked. I just said to Terry what a long way she has come if you read back to her first session 11 months ago she barely had any words and she was very timid and shy when she came out of her cast.

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