Remember the first time you were able to ride your bike without a helping hand? The freedom of movement and independence that you experienced was glorious—the wind in your hair, the pavement spinning by, the whir of the wheels. These movements and sensations are the ingredients by which our bodies learn to move and think. When we touch something hard or soft we learn about the characteristics of that object. When we crawl through a space we learn about the size of our body and limits of the space. Interactions with our world give us the ingredients to move and impact our surroundings.

At Camphill, therapy provides those special ingredients that help children learn and become more independent in the classroom and home environment. Students experience activities that move their muscles, engage their senses, and increase their communication and interaction with others.

The recipes vary as widely as the children. For instance, some children need the special ingredient of touch for learning. They learn more quickly when tactile sensations like rough, fuzzy, mushy, or smooth are mixed into the activity. Others need the spice of peer groups to stimulate communication and interaction. Some children need lots of joint and muscle activity to promote coordinated movement, while others need a pinch of quiet to truly learn and grow.

Whatever ingredient is folded in, the activity is led by a variety of therapeutic chefs. And who are these people? Music therapists, curative eurythmists, speech/language pathologists, physical and occupational therapists, and massage therapists. Activities are made unique with drums, horses, swings, games, and other such ingredients. One might see a student blowing on a trumpet to accompany a piano, crawling through a tunnel to complete a puzzle, fishing for a picture to start a conversation, or sitting on a horse backwards! Whatever the task, the activity is mixed with unique ingredients to provide an atmosphere of learning for each child that experiences it.

By Sandra Bacon, Occupational Therapist

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