“Programs like Joanne’s Autism Movement Therapy offer opportunities for our kids to develop the necessary and fundamental skills that benefit all our kids. Art saved my life!”
– Temple Grandin, PhD
The brain is an information processing wonder. We process and store information in either long term or short term areas of the brain. When we need that information again, we retrieve it via a pathway (white brain matter) in the mapping area (gray matter) of the brain. Brain mapping is an interesting process. In a nutshell, it’s like this. Say you move into a new home. You don’t know where to find the grocery store, the dry cleaner, the gas station or any other neighborhood establishments you need on a daily basis. But within a short period of time you’ve found these places and you no longer have to think about the specific directions to get to any of these places. You get in your car and drive right to the spot, almost as though you’re on “automatic pilot.” Daily we map hundreds of pieces of information by placing them in a file in our brain. Without even having to think about it, when we need the information we retrieve the file by going straight to it, via cognitive maps or highway pathways.
Individuals with autism have difficulty accessing and retrieving information in both long and/or short term memory banks. Either the pathway does not exist or the transmitters are impaired. This makes learning especially difficult for them. The analogy is that our kids’ brains function like a library where none of the information is stored in any organized, categorized way. Think of the confusion this would cause! The good news is that scientists now know we can often jumpstart impaired informational pathways or even create new pathways through a process called cognitive redirection. This “waking up the brain” is what Autism Movement Therapy is all about.
What is Autism Movement Therapy®?
AMT is an empowering sensory integration strategy that connects both the left and right hemispheres of the brain (interhemispheric integration) by combining patterning, visual movement calculation, audile receptive processing, rhythm and sequencing into a “whole brain” cognitive thinking approach that can significantly improve behavioral, emotional, academic, social and speech and language skills.
The primary goal of Autism Movement Therapy is that after 12 -14 weeks of two or three 12 minute sessions a week using the aut-erobics DVD, the individual will be more compliant when asked to complete on-task activities, will interact with typical general education peers more frequently, and will be using both sides of his brain for processing. Increased overall self-determination awareness, along with healthier, improved self-esteem is the ultimate goal.
Joanne Lara, M.A., is an adjunct professor at National University in Los Angeles, California and the Technical Advisor/Autism Consultant for Kiefer Sutherland’s new FOX TV pilot ‘TOUCH.’ She earned her master’s in Special Education from California State University, Northridge, and her B.A. in Dance from the University of South Florida. She holds a CCTC California Moderate/Severe Education Specialist K-12 teaching credential and taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for over ten years, where she worked exclusively with students with autism. Founder of Autism Movement Therapy, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, and aut-erobics the DVD, Ms. Lara teaches Autism Movement Therapy classes in Van Nuys, CA, where she has a private academic and behavior consultation practice. Please visit www.autismmovementtherapy.com to learn more and become a certified Autism Movement Therapy provider in your community. The next AMT Certification Workshop is March 3 & 4th in Los Angeles.