Equine-Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Comprehensive Literature Review

  • Ayla R. Mapes
  • Lee A. Rosén
Review Paper


Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is a therapeutic technique that has been examined for improving physical, emotional, social, cognitive, educational, and behavioral skills in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This literature review examines the usefulness of the approach for children diagnosed with ASD. The goal of the search strategy used was to include relevant scientific articles published examining EAT for children diagnosed with ASD. Of the 12 studies examined, 11 researchers demonstrated efficacy for increased physical and social functioning, communication, sensory sensitivity, sensory motivation, self-regulation, adaptive skills, motor skills, improved volition, as well as decreased aberrant behavior and severity of symptoms. The majority of the research documented improvements in functioning; however, these conclusions were qualified by numerous factors that limit the interpretation of the results.


Equine-assisted therapy Autism spectrum disorder 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the first author, Ayla Mapes, out of personal funds. No grant monies were involved.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies performed directly by any of the authors with human participants or animals—this is a review article of existing research.

Informed Consent

Informed consent is not applicable for this review article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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