Equine Therapy for Autism

Therapeutic Horse Back Riding
Photo from childrenstherapyworks.net

Equine therapy is considered a very successful form of treatment for children with autism. The rhythmic motion of riding a horse enables the child to indirectly learn better focusing on the horse and its riding movement, which is considered deliberate, slow, and calming.

An animal assisted therapy for autism is a fairly new technique but equine therapy for autism has been providing promising results such that many are considering to consistently utilize therapy animals in their treatment programs not only for autism but also for people with Asperger’s syndrome.

A calming effect of riding accompanies the indirect learning of how to focus better. Excellent results have been reported out of therapy ranch policies. An example is a horse is made to pick the child rather than assigning a child to a horse or a horse to a child. This technique allows a staff of the therapy ranch to guide a child to a horse then observing the horse reaction. A dipping of the head of the horse onto the child will serve as an indication that a bond has been initially established between the horse and the child. This is interpreted as the child’s selection by the horse.

One benefit of equine therapy for autism is the stimulation of the tactile senses of the autistic child riding the horse. The fuzzy skin, soft nose and the rough mane and tail of the horse provide sensations that usually help draw a child out. This eventually results in stimulation development of the child’s verbal communication as well as interest on other physical items.

The motor skills of the child are developed as the child learns to ride the horse.

The social interaction ability of the autistic child is likewise improved due to his or her interaction with the staff and counselor of the therapy ranch.

Equine therapy for autism is considered to offer a secure and safe treatment due to the fact that the staff or therapist is obliged to stay close to the patient while new skills are learned. The new skills learned as well as the continued improvement of the child increases his or her confidence including the desire and willingness to learn other skills outside of the therapy area, at home and in school. Learning would no longer scare the child but instead be interesting, enjoyable and most especially, rewarding.

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