The Association Between Therapeutic Horseback Riding and the Social Communication and Sensory Reactions of Children with Autism
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This study investigated the association between therapeutic riding (TR) and the social communication and sensory processing skills of 21 elementary students with autism attending TR as part of a school group. An interrupted treatment design was employed to determine whether children were able to maintain treatment effects following the removal of TR. Teacher ratings indicated that participating children with autism significantly increased their social interaction, improved their sensory processing, and decreased the severity of symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders following TR. Gains were not maintained consistently after two 6-week breaks from TR, but were recovered once TR was reinstated. Potential explanations regarding the benefits of TR are discussed, and suggestions for future research provided.
KeywordsAutism Autism spectrum disorder Therapeutic horseback riding Animal assisted therapy
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Wade Johnson, M.D. to the design and critique of this study.
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