Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Edition
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Dance/Movement Therapy & Autism

Dance/movement therapy focuses on movement behavior as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship. A therapist’s unique ability to understand, reflect and expand nonverbal expressions helps autistic persons improve socialization and communication, build body awareness, and affect motor deficits.

Utilizing a technique called “mirroring”, the therapist reflects the autistic individual’s body rhythms, movement patterns, and vocalizations. They assist them in beginning the process of relationship formation. As more awareness of “self” develops, the autistic person becomes aware of other people. They begin to recognize and respond to others, increase eye contact, participate in shared experiences and engage in shared focus. Beginning to break through isolation, decreasing the interpersonal distance (part of social isolation) and developing trust are all treatment goals in dance/movement therapy. As well as echoing the child on a movement level, the therapist occasionally translates what the child is doing into simple language. Verbalizing the movement explorations positively reflects how the child appears, improving body image and helping the child to cognitively organize and structure his/her experiences.

An increased integration of his/her own body parts and awareness of others expands the autistic individual’s movement vocabulary, thus increasing their ability to communicate their needs and desires. The movement serves as a bridge for contact and provides a vehicle for communication between the therapist and the autistic individual.

Source: American Dance Therapy Association (www.adta.org): for more information or to schedule a session/consultation, contact local dance/movement therapist, Suzanne Hastie, 628 Twin Ponds Rd., Breinigsville, at 610-417-0831 or SuzanneHastie@aol.com.

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