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Movement therapy helping children with Autism

By ANNA MEILER

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Heading back to school can be a difficult transition for any child, but for those with Autism, it can be even more challenging. A program that started at Herkimer ARC in December is helping children with Autism develop behavioral and cognitive skills, but they'll have to break out some dance moves.

"How much do you like coming here on Saturday's, a little or a lot?" Deborah Horner asked her 8-year-old son, Zach, who has Autism.

"A lot," he said, shyly.

The children gallop, wiggle and swing their arms, but they're doing much more than that. They're developing skills through movement therapy.

"Generally they just function off of the left side. Autism functions off left side. So, when you're staring in a mirror, or just staring at me doing it, watching my mirror movements, it would make both sides function. So, in a mirror it's like double, so it makes the neurons in the brain connect," said Kaylan Comes, an Autism Movement Therapy instructor. "It changes their cognitive skills. They do more thinking, and then it can change their behavioral skills, what they're doing socially. It's an amazing program, it really is."

Parents say this program is especially important now, heading into a new school year.

"It will help him because he has to learn to follow those simple steps that the teachers want, you know, write your name on the paper, we're going to do math now, or we're going to read now. He has to focus and to follow what the teacher's directions are, not just go running about wanting to do his thing," said Horner.

"They're able to focus more on what they're doing and focus on everything in their life. They can sit in school for a little bit longer, they can stand in line a little bit longer," said Comes.

Horner said the classes have helped her too.

"They do teach us how to work with our own children. That sounds funny, help us work with our children. We're their parent, we're supposed to know what's best, but sometimes we just don't. Sometimes having an outlet, showing us fun ways to dance with our kid or just being goofy with our kid. We're so structured, sometimes we forget," said Horner.

The movement therapy classes are for adults as well. The fall session starts on Sept. 7. And there are classes every Saturday for six weeks, divided into different age groups. It's $60 per session, which amounts to $10 per class. You can register by calling 315-574-7826.

Herkimer ARC is also offering classes for those who want to become certified trainers, so if you're interested in the teaching side of movement therapy, you can contact them for that as well.

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