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Horse Therapy and Autism

This is a discussion on Horse Therapy and Autism within the Therapeutic Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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        06-22-2013, 06:39 PM
      #11
    Foal
    I've worked with a lot of children with Autism at the therapeutic riding center I work at. I've seen wonderful results from riding for many of these children. Because Autism often comes with some sensory integration issues, the input from the horse can really help settle the riders. Also, the reciprocal relationship with the horse can be wonderful for their social skills, as a lot of children are able to relate to the horse in ways they can't relate to other people.

    I'm not a huge fan of "The Horse Boy" that tinyliny posted because the father said that hippotherapy "cured" his son of Autism. It is, however, a great homage to the benefits of riding. I find work by Temple Grandin to be more impressive, especially because it's an inside view to how riding helped her.
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        06-22-2013, 08:38 PM
      #12
    Green Broke
    Have you been to a therapeutic riding facility to actually see it first hand? That might be A good place to start.
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        06-23-2013, 02:46 PM
      #13
    Showing
    My cousin married a widower rancher with an autistic son of about 30 years of age. As soon as the son could straddle a horse he accompanied his father. He rode almost daily for years and at 30 still had no idea of how to get on a horse. Once he was on he was fine. If he dismounted he had to be shown again and helped to get back in the saddle.
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        06-23-2013, 10:28 PM
      #14
    Foal
    Thanks for your info guys. Aliliz I was just wondering if you could tell me about the results that you've seen? I've heard stories about Autistic children saying some of there first words on horse back. What do you think it is that helps them in this instance to speak. I've been doing research and have found that even those who don't like to actually ride the horse because they've had a bad experience etc have found the grooming and the looking after of the horse beneficial. I think it does come down to what you said, that the children are able to relate or connect with horses in ways that they can't with other people. SlideStop im just in the middle of trying to get an opportunity to go to riding for the disabled place. So fingers cross that happens. Saddlebag that's really interesteing. Do you know if the he enjoyed riding the horses?
         
        06-23-2013, 10:30 PM
      #15
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    I'll check it out thank you :)
         
        06-24-2013, 11:37 AM
      #16
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by millymoo    
    Thanks for your info guys. Aliliz I was just wondering if you could tell me about the results that you've seen? I've heard stories about Autistic children saying some of there first words on horse back. What do you think it is that helps them in this instance to speak. I've been doing research and have found that even those who don't like to actually ride the horse because they've had a bad experience etc have found the grooming and the looking after of the horse beneficial. I think it does come down to what you said, that the children are able to relate or connect with horses in ways that they can't with other people. SlideStop im just in the middle of trying to get an opportunity to go to riding for the disabled place. So fingers cross that happens. Saddlebag that's really interesteing. Do you know if the he enjoyed riding the horses?
    I've heard first words and seen children who would otherwise be in their own worlds reach out to interact with the horse. Also, I've seen autistic children with bad tantrums control their behavior when we tell them that they might scare or hurt their horse. In terms of speech, I think there are a few things that influence it. One is the sensory input they get while on the horse, which can help them focus. Another is that the setting is very stimulating. There's a lot to look at at a barn! At my barn, we have a mini donkey who has proven to be a great speech therapy tool... the kids talk to him and sometimes, he talks right back!
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        06-24-2013, 11:45 AM
      #17
    Green Broke
    Another reason kids will say and do things they normally wouldn't is because the horse is a HUGE motivator. They are seeking that sensory input that they get on a limited bases and that we control, all while trying to make them think they are in control.
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        06-24-2013, 11:34 PM
      #18
    Showing
    My cousin would watch from afar and felt there was no emotion about anything. It was just something he had to do so his father could keep an eye on him.
         
        06-24-2013, 11:42 PM
      #19
    Showing
    Almost forgot. An autistic man, along with a few others, was brought to my place to experience horses. This particular man barely knew to eat or drink and had to often be reminded. Now, this particular horse of mine did not like anyone standing directly in front of his face and was inclined to shove the person, even me, if too close. A gate was between the horse and this man. He moved close to the horse's face and placed his hand so it wasn't quite touching the horse between it's eyes. The man appeared to be looking at his hand yet there was something going on in his eyes. He stood like that a good five minutes. I was in the ready but the horse stood dead still. I swear he and the horse had made some kind of connection. His care-giver saw it too. He didn't talk but the odd word/noise so there was nothing he could tell anyone.
         
        06-25-2013, 02:38 AM
      #20
    Foal
    That's amazing Saddlebag. It's exciting to hear the way in which people and horses have the ability to understand each other. That makes sense aliliz and SlideStop. From what I've been studying, I wonder if its also because the horse, similarly to an autistic person, communicates through body language more so than verbal cues etc. I'm thinking that it must be a combination of different factors that varies dependant upon the severity of Autism and the person. I think someone mentioned before that its not something that works for everyone, but its so good that new therapies like equine therapy are options for parents.

    I was also wondering, if any of you were interested, if I sent through a questionnaire, could you or would you fill it out. If not, that's cool, your input has been priceless.
         

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