Monday, February 7, 2011

Horseback Riding Therapy

Last Saturday my little brother turned twelve years old, but instead of celebrating his birthday playing with friends from school, we had a small family gathering even though he was completely unaware of what was going on. He's still isn't completely capable of verbally communicating with us either. Instead he has learned a few simple signs to express things like hunger and thirst. I can't imagine what he goes through, with all the thoughts and emotions he feels but no truly successful way to express them in a way that every one around him can understand. Temper tantrums are common with him, which is completely understandable considering what he deals with on a regular basis. Well, like almost every girl in America, I recently saw the movie "Dear John" and the leading female character in it had a dream to open up a horse riding ranch specifically for autistic children. This caught my attention and I chose to do some research on it. Apparently, interaction between autistic children and horses can be very beneficial. A lot of people say that children with this disability have a sort of "horse sense" that allows them to connect well with the animal. It seems to add up since a horse can sense the smallest movement and tell what the rider is feeling (whether it be nervous, relaxed, tense, excited, ect.). Since autistic children have such a hard time communicating to others (as I explained about my little brother) it can be a very positive experience, if the horse is able to read into the body movements and tension of the rider. It allows the rider to communicate with the horse in ways that they cannot with another person. It also could help the child with a lot of the sensorimotor skills (something that tends to be at a lower level for autistic children). It's definitely something I want to keep researching and considering for my little brother.  (Some additional information on the therapy)