Individuals with Williams syndrome benefit from many different types of therapeutic support. In addition to occupational, physical and speech therapy, children with Williams syndrome often particiate, and gain excellent benefits from less traditional types of therapy - especially music therapy, hippotherapy and therapeutic riding, and sound-based therapies.
The therapies listed below (with the exception of music therapy) are less likely to be provided by, or paid for, by school districts. Although there are always exceptions, many non-traditional theapies are only available through "private pay" organizations*. Music therapy is the exception. It is now "recognized' as a related service by IDEA and can be requested on Individualized Education Plans. Not all districts employ music therapists on either a staff or consultant basis, which often makes services harder to secure than OT, PT or Speech, but there are precedents to help you obtain MT as part of your child's IEP.
*The WSA has scholarship programs to help with these programs.
Music Therapy is gaining acceptance in many school districts nationally, and the direct link between Williams syndrome and musicality can help you obtain MT for your child.
To see articles that can help you obtain services, go to the section on Music and Williams Syndrome here.
Music therapy involves teaching and reinforcing all nature of other cognitive and physical abilites through the use of music. Music therapy does NOT rely on musical ability and does NOT teach children to play an instrument. It utilizes a child's natural love of music to help them improve other tasks.
Music therapy should be provided by a licensed Music Therapist, as certified by the American Music Therapy Association. You can obtain more information, including the list of certified Music therapists in your area by contacting the AMTA directly.
Hippotherapy can have benefits to children with Williams syndrome, as with any child with a disability. Hippotherapy has had positive results reported by parents of children with WS.
Per the American Hippotherapy Association:
"Hippotherapy is a term that refers to the use of the movement of the horse as a treatment tool by Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists to address impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities in patients with neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction. Hippotherapy is used as part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional outcomes."
Therapeutic riding addresses self esteem and emotional well-being as well.
For more information on Hippotherapy, vist the website of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).
Sound based therapies have proven helpful for some children with Williams syndrome. There are various forms of sound based therapies available and the WSA does not endorse any single therapy doctrine. Two of the most comon sound based therapies are listed here.
Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT)
For more information, see:
This therapy was originally designed for individuals with autism; however, individuals with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, and other disabilities have also received AIT. The intended purpose of AIT is to reduce hypersensitivity to sounds and to remediate listening difficulties.
- Auditory Integration therapy
The Tomatis program
For more information, see:
This therapy/program employs an electronic listening device in different, individually tailored treatment stages. The Tomatis program does not focus on hearing, but with the functional, social, and psychological factors that bear on listening, communication, language, motor control, learning and health in general.
- The Tomatis Method