It was my absolute pleasure to write an article on AAC for the American Hippotherapy Association’s publication HIPPOTHERAPY.
As a licensed speech language pathologist (SLP), I incorporate hippotherapy into my patient’s treatment plans if and when it is appropriate to help them meet their therapy goals. According to the American Hippotherapy Association, the term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes. Best practice dictates that occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of care, along with other therapy tools and/or strategies.
Another area that I incorporate in my clients treatment as an SLP is AAC. According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) includes all of the ways we share our ideas and feelings without talking. There two main types of AAC: unaided and aided. Unaided AAC refers to any nonverbal communication that does not require anything other than your own body. This includes pointing, gesturing, facial expressions, and body language. It is quite simple and natural to incorporate unaided AAC into the equine environment. In fact, most people use unaided AAC naturally in their day-to-day communication without any thought or planning. Aided AAC refers to a tool, device, or system that a person uses to augment their verbal and unaided communication.
Sometimes combining AAC (particularly high tech systems) and hippotherapy in a speech therapy session requires some thought and creativity. AAC devices are often fragile, visibility can be impacted by things like sun glare, and keeping high tech devices accessible while a client is on a moving horse can be a challenge. However, the value of generalization of AAC use across activities, settings and environments is critical to communication success. In the article written for HIPPOTHERAPY I have shared some of the things that have worked well at my practice, Speech Language Pathology in Motion, located in Islandia NY. View a PDF of the article as it appeared in HIPPOTHERAPY here: https://secureservercdn.net/18.104.22.168/650.8cf.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/HIPPOTHERAPYTherapyShare-AAC-and-Hippotherapy-Tina-Rocco.pdf
Please share your thoughts, comments and ideas on AAC use at the barn below.