At Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices, our children receive physical, occupational, speech, art, and music therapy.
Physical therapy is used to build strength, mobility and motor skills. Our physical therapists help children with physical, developmental or neurological disabilities. The main emphasis of PT is on impairments of movement that lead to functional limitations.
Occupational therapy focuses on strengthening both fine and gross motor skills while also addressing eating and oral motor skills, self-care maintenance, and positioning. Therapists use adaptive equipment and sensory integration techniques to help our students acquire the knowledge needed to perform these skills.
Speech Therapy is another very important component of the Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices program.
Our speech department is staffed with professionals that are well versed in alternative and augmentative communication. The purpose of speech-language therapy is to enhance intentional communication via expression of ideas, obtaining desires, sharing information, and interpersonal interaction. Language is the means by which communication is achieved.
Components of language include: understanding/verbal expression, facial/manual gestures, tone of voice, and body orientation.
Art therapy is a form of communication development that allows children with ASD to express themselves.
Art Therapy: learning skills through creative expression
In Tzippy Silberman’s art therapy classroom, students do not have to color inside the lines. In fact, they are encouraged not to. At Shema-Kolainu Hear our Voices School, children work in small groups as well as one on one to create instructive works of art.
Students might work in traditional watercolor like you would expect, but they also break the mold by making plaster masks, building wire sculptures, and using mixed media for starters.
The program is tailored to areas where students need improving. For many, creating art with others is a social activity that requires communication. A fun group activity is puppet making, which facilitates play with the child’s peers.
“Art increases socialization and helps the kids express themselves.”
There is also an emotional connection to art for some of the children. They sometimes use art to calm down while channeling their energy on something enjoyable. The children even learn to label their emotions through their art, making pictures to describe how sadness, anger, or joy feels to them.
“Non-verbal kids use different devices to communicate wants or needs,” says Gili Rechany, operations director at Shema Kolainu. “They do not have a way to express feeling or emotion. Art therapy allows the child to explore their environment. The kids can communicate things they are really scared of or things they love. It is a concern because some of the kids cannot tell us what motivates them. Some of the kids love art therapy so much because they feel a sense of security. Art is a form of communication.”
They also experiment with different textures.
Students have created attractive works of art by mixing different colors of chalk with water, creating a paste that can be dabbed on with a brush. Students can also mix mediums, like paint and crinkled paper or popsicle sticks to create a collage. This builds their sensory integration.
Ms. Silberman saw a child come out of his shell recently through a sort of transformative art project. The boy began drawing circles on a sheet of paper at different speeds- fast and slow. Then, he crumpled the paper and made a ball from it. He then used the ball to play a game with his teacher as they tossed the ball back and forth. This game helped build the social skills of the child.
Making an art project can also help an autistic child foster a unique identity through their creations. Since some children enjoy playing with toy cars, for instance, they can actually dip the little cars in paint and drag them across the canvas to create rainbow tracks.
“They use their interests to actualize their sense of self.”
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Music therapy is an important part of the curriculus here at Shema Kolainu. It provides treatment in a non-threatening setting between people and/or individuals and their environment, facilitating relationships, learning, self expression, and communication.
It helps to capture and maintain a child's attention and proves to be highly motivating for them.
Music therapy can stimulate kids in positive ways that increase their social participation, and enable those without verbal language to communicate and express themselves using instruments.
Since music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain, it can also assist in the development of verbal communication, as well as speech and language skills.