A whole-brain approach to fitness blending music and movement therapy, expressive arts therapy, and sensory-emotional-behavioral integration and regulation for children with special needs, or children who want to feel special is being offered in El Dorado Hills.
“Super-flex My Brain: Music, Movement, and Mindfulness” classes, where everyone is welcome and everyone succeeds are offered in two locations in El Dorado Hills — Fit and Well Pilates and SNAP Fitness on three separate days. Classes are ongoing and benefit many children, plus they will think it’s just for fun.
Children with disabilities aren’t always able to successfully participate in activities with non-disabled peers. And some non-disabled children have difficulty fitting in with peers. Now they can.
Speech-language therapist and founder of Caring and Courageous Kids, Dee DiGioia, recently moved to El Dorado Hills and is starting up these classes for children in the community.
Trained and certified under Joanne Lara, founder of Autism Movement Therapy, DiGioia has offered music and movement therapy for several years as a daily routine for many of the special needs students in the school where she was a speech-language therapist as part of the Individualized Education Plan.
When working with special needs students, DiGioia took up a special interest in the children who had challenges with regulating or controlling their emotions and behaviors.
“They seemed to have triggers which would easily set them off — in the classroom with the demands of the academics, with the way they perceived that someone looked at them, and so on,” said DiGioia.”Because their buttons were easily pressed, they often were the targets of bullying on the playground. Sometimes the world feels peaceful and in an instant it can all change. For some students it can become overwhelming. Through music, movement and mindfulness, I have developed strategies that have worked successfully with most of my students. I find great joy in helping children find ways to calm themselves and help restore peace in their corner of the world.”
In response to her special needs students being targeted for bullying, DiGioia founded Caring and Courageous Kids to help children in schools to become more compassionate thinkers in standing up to help stop bullying.
Research has found that music and movement therapy is a “whole brain” cognitive re-mapping approach that significantly improves behavioral, social, emotional speech, language and academic skills in children.
The strategies literally awaken the brain by combining patterning, visual movement calculation, auditory processing, rhythm and sequencing, regulating their bodies and impulses which engages the whole brain.
As these abilities are strengthened, new neural pathways open up, and transfer to other challenging areas of life, opening up a whole new world.
The classes are for children ages 7-12 with challenges in any of the following areas: autism, Asperger’s syndrome, speech and language communication impairment, sensory — emotional — behavioral regulation, auditory processing impairment, impulse control, motor development, neurological and/or cognitive skills deficits, low self-esteem and difficulty making friends.