Retreat teaches families battling health issues non-traditional therapies

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - An annual program teaches kids with special medical needs and their parents how to deal with symptoms and the stress of diagnosis with non-traditional medicine.

Parents and children attending a special retreat at Hacienda del Sol get a chance to try out dozens of different therapy options and it's not just for kids with disabilities. It's also for kids battling cancer.

Sophia Clark, 10, enjoyed some quiet time in meditation class and fun activities with kids just like her.

"It's just so much fun and I had some relaxing moments," Clark said. "My favorite part was swimming and also riding the horses."

Clark is autistic and her new friends have different disabilities.

Shay Beider with Integrative Touch for Kids hosts this week-long event that promotes social skills and coping techniques.

For parents it offers support and a look at alternative therapies.

"We have nurses and doctors on our medical team, but we also have acupuncturists," Beider said.

Patty Leffler didn't give up hope when 3-year-old Alyssa was diagnosed with adrenal cancer. She looked for every treatment possible.

"You want your children to live a long happy life and when we thought there might be a time when none of that was possible, it was very dark," Leffler said. "At one time I think I felt desperate because of that. It was a real desperation."

Leffler is here to see how Alyssa responds to different therapies.

"She's calm at times when I wouldn't think she would be and she's responsive to the different touch and, you know, the energy," Leffler said.

Like Leffler, the families here hope they find new ways to keep their kids happy and healthy.

Organizers are getting a lot of help from volunteers who are uniquely qualified to work with these kids. That's because some of the volunteers have disabilities.

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