Jon Samson, board certified music therapist
Grammy Award Winner
"Jennifer Richman has all the qualities one would hope for in a therapist; she's professional, musical, compassionate, intuitive, and genuinely cares for each of her clients. I have had the privilege of collaborating with her, as well as co-lecturing with her about autism at Columbia University, and simply put, her work speaks for itself. Remarkable."
I am an Occupational Therapist with over 20 years experience who specializes in working with children who have a variety of diagnosis including Autism, learning disabilities, and Sensory Processing Disorder as well as teens and young adults with mental health challenges. I use music and creativity in my practice, depending on what is meaningful and fun for the individual. If you feel that you or your child would benefit from music as a part of the Occupational Therapy process, please feel free to reach out to me. I'd be happy to help.
A Tip Sheet for Parents and Teachers by Jennifer I. Richman OTR/L
NUTRITION AND HYDRATION and AUTISM:
Avoiding the following may help to reduce symptoms: food coloring, white flour, dairy, sugar. Research shows that these products may have a correlation with symptoms.
HYDRATED with WATER – avoid soda and processed fruit juice. Dilute juices if needed.
EYE CONTACT, SAFETY AWARENESS, and AUTISM
CHILDREN ON THE SPECTRUM CAN BE HIGHLY SKILLED OBSERVERS AND MAY BE SENSITIVE TO OTHER PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS. Adults and peers model eye contact, social, and coping skills. Our full attention during interaction helps teach focus.
MIRROR WORK: Use of a mirror can help teach the brain awareness of the body in relation to the environment. Once you can acknowledge your reflection, you will better notice others and the environment around you. It can help a child focus at times.
PLAYING A LIVE ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENT AND/OR SINGING: The music does not have to be in tune. Important thing is that the performer is able to express him or her-self musically and feel accepted unconditionally. Music is a universal language. It helps to facilitate speech, emotion, and connection. The vibration of a steel string acoustic guitar or singing may access areas of the brain that help to facilitate cognition, emotion, social skills, and focus. It is helpful if the adult models eye contact during the music activity.
POSTURE AND CORE MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT TO SIT UPRIGHT AT THE TABLE IS REQUIRED BEFORE ONE CAN SUCCESSFULLY ADDRESS HAND AND FINGER STRENGTH. We get the best results when the activity is meaningful and fun! It also helps to encourage use of the pointer finger during fine motor activities. Children and adults on the spectrum tend to avoid using the index finger. They may also avoid integrating both sides of the body during actiivity such as catching a ball, an activity that uses both hands together.
Exercises for older children:
Wall Push-ups, jumping jacks, Introductory Yoga and/or workout DVDs that you can perform with your child, helping to carry packages during food shopping, chores around the house, ripping paper into little pieces (helping with shreding), popping bubble wrap, theraputty games, put a rubber band around feeding utensils and/or writing tool (This will help with improving grasp patterns and tactile awareness.)
Exercises for younger children:
Wheelbarrow and/or bear walking on hands and feet, (with supervision:) ripping paper into little pieces (pretend snow) , Legos, pop beads, lacing cards, clothespin games, play dough, put a rubber band around her writing and/or coloring tool and asking him or her to squeeze the rubber band to help strengthen grip, popping bubble wrap, theraputty or play-doh.
"The Out of Sync Child," by Carol Kranowitz
“Children With Emerald Eyes: Histories of Extraordinary Boys and Girls,” by Mira Rothenberg
"The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's," by Dr. Temple Grandin