Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Quality of life assessments were used in this study to determine the behavioral changes of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who participated in equine assisted activities. Behavioral changes of children with ASD participating in 9 weeks of equines assisted activities (EAA) (N = 10) were compared to behavioral changes of children who participated in a non-equine intervention (N = 8). Parents noted significant improvements in their child’s physical, emotional and social functioning following the first 6 weeks of EAA. The children participating in the non-equine program also demonstrated improvement in behavior, but to a lesser degree. The favorable outcome of this study lends support for continuation of programs utilizing EAA in the treatment of children with ASD.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all the staff at: Ride on Center for Kids (R.O.C.K.) in Georgetown, Texas, Riding Equines to Achieve Confidence and Health (R.E.A.C.H.) in McGregor, Texas, and the Baylor Autism Resource Center for all their help with this study. We would also like to thank the parents of the children who participated in this study for their willingness to be a part of the study.

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Correspondence to Beth A. Lanning.

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Lanning, B.A., Baier, M.E.M., Ivey-Hatz, J. et al. Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 1897–1907 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2062-5

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Equine assisted activities and therapies
  • Quality of life
  • Therapeutic horseback riding