Whoopee Cushion during Hippotherapy

My three-year-old client has a speech delay, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and motor planning challenges. He is shown in the video having a great time bouncing up and down on the Whoopee Cushion. This gives him both proprioceptive and vestibular sensory stimulation. The horse had been walking during this, so I Tell the horse handler to halt. My client readily imitated asking for "more please" and walking was resumed. This is a great example of using movement as reinforcement for a highly desirable behavior-

Click on the purple "made with clipchamp to start video.


Most of my clients were in early intervention programs, typically between 2 and 3 years of age. However, sometimes they started as young as 15 months and only once I told a parent to come back when her child was older.

I taught clients how to do an equestrian move called "posting".  This involved coordinating repetitions of standing up and sitting down with feet in stirrups".  This move

  • strengthen the child's core and legs,
  • provides proprioceptive  and vestibular stimulation,
  • decreases tactile sensitivity to palms as the child tightly grips the handle,
  • develops skills to motor plan a rhythmic sequence and
  • promotes a lovely therapist-client interaction.

Some clients were able to imitate my words "up and down", "more", "good pony" etc. This activity promoted attention and motivation because it was fun and met their sensory needs to be at their best alertness level.... . The children were primed to verbalize or perhaps vocalize their impression of the fart sound". This seems like a great way to initiate sounds to communicate.

Sometimes, the sensory stimulation and horse excitement prompted verbalizations that the parents had never heard before. In some cases, I tape recorded the little ones and played it back for parents to hear their children's voices for the first time.

The whoopee cushion can be used during  therapy in a clinical setting- to promote similar attention and motor planning skills. Position the Whoopee cushion near a hand, knee, head, elbow or foot to press during activities on either a stable or dynamic surface. For example, the client who is prone over a therapy ball can rock toward the floor to bilaterally press the whoopee cushion.

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