Horse riding found to significantly reduce autism symptoms in children

Helping a child to make sense of the world around them is no easy feat for any parent. For parents caring for children under the spectrum, it is all the more delicate. Kids that are high-functioning can experience lack of interest in activities that children usually respond favorably to, may struggle in general to make companions, and can be more comfortable making eye-to-eye contact or facial expressions when trying to communicate. For these reasons alone, recreational horse riding is proving a successful approach to reducing pediatric autism symptoms significantly. 

Equine Therapy, or horse riding, is important for these children because the activity provides numerous, effective benefits. Sensory stimulation including balance and change of direction can engage autistic children in a way that ordinary exercise may not. The thrill and vigor of riding are both exciting and provide a sensation unlike any other. Also, allowing a child of any age to establish an emotional bond with an animal helps them to correlate care (brushing, hugging, petting), and enjoy their time providing physical interaction with feelings of empowerment and worth, in order to help them with overall communication.

Parents wanting to explore horse therapy for their child can find organizations online that provide direction and even financial support as needed. A child getting to befriend a horse can help the family as a whole cope with and navigate the seriousness of autism. It may also successfully create a bridge to help parents teach and communicate with their child during a time when they're quite distressed. Since animals, especially a horse, are proven in calming a child, this approach is worthwhile.

The actual science behind reducing symptoms conclude that when a child interacts with these gentle giants, they show improved awareness, or "sensory seeking", greater sensitivity, decreased distractibility and even more "social" motivation. There is an observable, unique connection between the animal and a child with autism. Additional benefits include reduced stress, kids ability to emotionally express themselves, and increased cognitive skill. 

Getting involved with this or any specific therapy has a few challenges. A child needs to be supervised at all times, and equine therapy must be provided by someone who directly specializes in the treatment. Since there are special disabled equine centers and licensed professionals, it can become quite expensive. With the encouraging results available, it is, however, certainly an attractive approach.


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