Language of movement through therapy can reach children on the autism spectrum

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When it comes to communicating with a child, often words aren't enough, and that holds true when trying to reach a child who may be on the autism spectrum.

Some experts believe using a language of movement may be the key.

As a child, bright lights, unexpected movements and loud sounds used to overwhelm 15-year-old Lily LaMontagne.

"I could hear a baby cry from like a hundred feet away," she said.

Lily has autism. It was difficult for her to communicate and interact.

Now through dance and movement therapy with Dr. Lori Baudino, Lily has learned to manage her emotions.

"As a psychologist, dance movement therapy allows me to take therapy one step further. It really supports connection," Baudino said. "Movement gives us access into understanding emotions that we're having."

Lily said it helps her concentrate.

"It makes me calm. And I use my energy in exercise and plenty of positive thinking ways," she said.

Baudino said repetitive behaviors, lack of eye contact and facial changes are all forms of communication. All kids are constantly expressing their thoughts through movement.

If adults pay attention without criticizing or correcting, Baudino said they can pick up on important cues.

Lily's mom, Denise Montagne, learned to slow her speech and lower her volume.

"And the more I adjusted, she would respond because she wanted to be with me. She wanted to experience interaction," LaMontagne said. "But I had to meet her where she was and make her feel comfortable and then slowly I could bring her kind of out."

Experts said the idea behind movement therapy is to help Lily feel more connected to herself. But, when the whole family is involved even more meaningful connections are made.

"We kind of learn their language and their dance and then they learn ours," Baudino said. "There's this back and forth. It just evolves from there. It's endless."

Today, Lily excels in school, Girl Scouts and hopes to turn her passion for marine life into a career. She hopes her life will inspire others.

"You guys should keep on following a dream and make friends and live life long," she said.

If you want to learn more about the movement therapy, you can go
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