Creative Therapy Care is a local nonprofit organization that supports children and adults with special needs through the use of occupational, physical, and speech therapies by incorporating animals. They also provide music therapy onsite through Anderson Music Therapy Services.
The newly-expanded campus includes a gym for sensory integrative activities, a woodworking station, and a shop where items made by clients are sold. It will soon include a room renovated for expressive art.
Occupational therapist Mona Sams owns and cares for all of the animals used at Creative Therapy Care. Dogs, rabbits, and llamas comfort and bond with clients on the grounds. This unique form of treatment is not only soothing, but also helps in the development of key life skills. “Animals help because they don’t pass judgement,” explains Mona. “They give unconditional acceptance. They also help in that they create an awareness that beings other than just yourself need to be cared for. It helps develop a nurturing aspect and social skills. They each pick a llama to care for and they share.”
In addition to occupational therapy, clients can participate in music therapy with Noel Anderson and Cassie Smith from Anderson Music Therapy. Music is used therapeutically to address physical, psychological, communicative, cognitive, behavioral, and/or social functioning. Often clients are co-treated with the two therapies since they are at the same site. This allows parents and caregivers to take advantage of both in the same trip.
“Sometimes a client has been in a session with me and Cassie will come down and I can let her know what we’ve done during the day,” says Mona. “They can then make up a song about something that happened with a llama. If the client gets restless we can walk around the building again with the llama.”
Through a door in the music room awaits a gym. Once a garage, it is now a room of discovery and growth. There, nonverbal children learn to communicate with the animals without speaking by making motions with their hands or indicating direction with their bodies. In the last few months, clients have been using the gym to practice with the llamas for Llama Fest, which will take place on Saturday, October 8 from 10 am to 4 pm (with a rain date of Saturday, October 15). The event will take place at their location, 8209 Williamson Road, Roanoke. Clients will lead their llamas through obstacles and it will be categorized according to skill. There will be judges present for the event, which helps teach sportsmanship and self awareness.
If you are interested in learning more about Creative Therapy Care and Anderson Music Therapy, their websites are www.monasark.org and www.amusictheraphy.com, respectively. Don’t forget to check out Llama Fest on October 8! We’ll see you there!