The TAAP Course: Treadmill for Children with Autism and Apraxia Protocol
Onsite Seminar -
Debra Widmer-Reyes, MSPT
TAAP has powerful potential to provide an avenue for neurological development in the areas of gross, fine and visual motor skills. In general, treadmill walking increases visual processing speed that lasts after the exercise is completed. TAAP combines therapeutic gait development with visual spatial training to develop occulomotor visual skills that relate specifically to learning. Walking and gross motor skill coordination is the end product of accurate visual spatial and focal vision development. During the ages of 1 through 5 years old, children refine their visual and motor systems simultaneously. The concurrent movement through space with visual guidance during walking and play leads to mature visual skills that prepare children for learning. Children who present with atypical walking and delayed gross motor patterns struggle in the classroom with sitting still, visually attending, independent work productivity, transitions and endurance throughout the school day. Children with Autism and Apraxia have focused deficits of language and social communication, emotional regulation and ability to transition from activities. Their relative strengths in the visual and motor systems can be targeted for refinement, then utilized to support deficit training. TAAP walking patterns occur at a fitness training level of each child so that sitting posture, walking, running and endurance increase. As physical skills increase, pre-reading visual skills of fixation, saccades, tracking, attention and memory are promoted. Improved visual gross motor skills allow an automaticity of early learning behaviors that are essential for independence on the classroom.