How Riding Horses Benefits Residents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Equine-Assisted Therapy Jamaica

The residents with disabilities who live in Mustard Seed homes receive a personal care plan with specific goals for each resident. Treatment includes stretching, massages, self-feeding, coordination, and multisensory stimulation. For some residents, this also includes riding horses!

Horseback riding as rehabilitative treatment is called hippotherapy or equine-assisted therapy. For individuals with disabilities, this is a great way to participate in a fun activity while strengthening their physical and emotional capabilities. The balance and strength that is required for horseback riding helps improve motor skills. Mentally, the residents form bonds and working relationships with the horse while engaging with them. By working with the horses, they are learning, trust, confidence, and patience. Residents can translate these skills in other areas of their life.

Hippotherapy is especially beneficial to those with autism  spectrum disorder because of the emotional aspects of the therapy. Working with horses serves as a form of social interaction that can be less stressful than human interaction. Those with autism spectrum disorder often have trouble with social and emotional interactions and by learning to work with the moods and personalities of a horse, they can practice these skills! It also helps these individuals in regards to building trust, self confidence, and responsibility.

Equine-Assisted Therapy JamaicaSince the program began in Jamaica, 60 residents from four apostolates have participated in it and the benefits have shown to be very significant. Residents from Jerusalem, Sophie’s Place, My Father’s House, and Gift of Hope who are affected by a range of different disabilities have participated in the program.

Oshane, a resident who has autism spectrum disorder, participated in the Hippotherapy program and had a lot of success. At the beginning of the therapy session, Oshane was shy and hesitant when it came to interacting with the horses. However, as soon as he mounted one of the horses, he began smiling and didn’t want to get off when the session was over!

Equine-Assisted Therapy JamaicaAnother resident who also has autism spectrum disorder, Devron, benefitted from the therapy just by interacting with the horses. He was too afraid to ride one but was able to bond with the horses by holding its halter, guiding it around, and touching its face. While these types of interactions may seem small and unimportant, for someone like Devron or Oshane, they are a great way to build confidence and social skills. Other residents have benefitted from the therapy physically by improving their core strength and balance skills from learning to ride the horses.

Mustard Seed Communities is committed to making sure each resident thrives. By approaching treatment for residents in individualized and unique ways, they are growing and getting stronger. Horseback riding is one way MSC residents are reaching their full potential.

Additional facts provided from zarebasystems.com.

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