By Wendy Harron - March 27, 2012
I have had the opportunity of working with many children who are diagnosed with PDD. The diagnosis in general seems to have a very wide range of abilities and areas that are affected. I have found in my area (Northeastern part of the country), that these children seem to fall somewhere between those who are diagnosed with Autism, and those diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. So their responses to using the Interactive Metronome have been very similar, with great progress in a shorter amount of time.
Many of my patients with PDD need a very tangible and almost familiar task to complete. They have a difficult time following the directions for some of the exercises we do in IM, but that is no problem because the exercises can be easily adjusted and modified to help them learn. The exercises need to make sense to them to facilitate their participation. I remember one little boy who was 7 years old. He had such a tough time trying to “get the beat”. We ended up putting a parade of animals on our Velcro wall and petting each one to the beat. Touching the switch to the animal (it was strapped to his palm, and the animals were on the wall) gave him a very physical and natural response to the beat. I had to space the animals a certain distance apart so that it would take him physically longer to go from one animal to the next. I think these kiddos almost need the structure and assistance to help them find the beat.
Progress in these patients has been tremendous. Improved social skills, improved eye hand coordination, improved group/classroom participation, improved reading and math – my list could go on and on. Several of the children I have worked with who have the diagnosis of PDD need a bit longer to get into the
groove – so don’t give up if you don’t see improvement right away! I like to see the children for 15 or so visits, then give them a break of several months, and then bring them back in for another 15 visits. It seems that that break helps them to reorganize their new neural pathways, and progress continues in their functional environments over this time. When they come back to me for more visits, I am able to increase the challenge and even more improvement is seen.
If your child has been diagnosed with PDD, ask your therapist about utilizing IM as a compliment to their traditional therapies. If your therapist is not certified in IM, you can go to www.interactivemetronome.com to look for a provider near you.