The impact of hippotherapy on a child with autism a single case study

At the end of the study, each set of parents was interviewed again and asked if they had noticed any changes in their child during the study beyond the identified target behaviors.


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In addition, we examined whether changes in behavior occurred during therapeutic riding sessions and if there was any carryover into the home and the community. At first glance, dosing of therapeutic riding did not seem to have an obvious effect on the parent-identified targeted behaviors. However, the statistical significance of the changes magnitude did vary based on dosage, with changes for the better and for the worse.

Therefore, although increasing the dosage of weekly therapeutic riding sessions did not seem to impact the number of positive behavioral changes, it did impact the magnitude of those changes—primarily for the better. We also sought to examine whether the target behaviors changed for the positive during the riding sessions, and if the benefits of the therapeutic riding sessions carried over to the home and community. In contrast, even though some behaviors changed for the worse in each phase during the riding sessions, the impact of the riding sessions on the target behaviors in the home and community were uniformly positive.

Therefore, even though the target behaviors often exacerbated with the excitement during the therapeutic riding sessions, the carryover of the session effect on the target behaviors in the home and community was positive. However, there were few changes in the standardized measures over the 3 months of the study.

On the ABC-C measure, all three boys were scored lowest on the irritability scale, but all other scales were more indicative of severe symptoms. Likewise, for the SRS, most of the T-scores for each time period were in the severe range. Of the nine target behaviors, one behavior involved verbal stereotypy e. Increased verbal communication was also mentioned by all three sets of parents during the goal-free evaluation at the end of the study.

For each boy, communication with the instructor was a therapeutic riding goal, and this mostly consisted of verbalizing to the instructor what he wanted to do e.


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The therapeutic riding instructor also required the boys to follow directions for the planned lesson first, before granting choices, and if the boys did not verbalize the choice accurately e. All parents reported consistent increases in verbalization at home and in the community over the Intervention and Withdrawal phases of the study.

Changes in physical core strength and coordination were two other positive outcomes of the therapeutic riding program reported by parents, including improved abilities to sit up straight on the horse for a greater proportion of the session, manage the reins better, and stand up in the stirrups. Only two studies have been published on the use of therapeutic horseback riding for children with ASD Bass et al. Bass et al. Wuang et al. The control group received traditional occupational therapy only, with conditions reversed at the week point, and measures taken at weeks 1—2 T1 , weeks 23—24 T2 , and week 44 T3.

Because Wuang et al. Also, participants in the Waung et al. Waung et al. As with all studies, our study had limitations. Although the study met all criteria for a well-designed single subject study Horner et al. Also, the parents were not masked to the general purpose of the study, and also served as data collectors for target behaviors in the home and community. Because each of the participants had ridden once a week for about 1 year, they had already mastered any fear associated with approaching, grooming or riding a horse.

Future studies should include larger samples, and gather more data on the impact of confounding factors during each phase of the study.


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This study sought to fill in gaps on previous therapeutic riding studies of children with ASD by including parent-identified target behaviors, dosing, and generalization of effect to the home and community. Dosing of therapeutic riding was associated positively with the magnitude of changes in target behaviors, but not the number of behavioral changes. Additionally, even though target behaviors worsened during the excitement of the riding sessions, the effect of the sessions generalized positively to the home and community for physical stereotypy behaviors and spontaneous verbalization, but not for verbal stereotypy behaviors.

Single subject design was an effective, yet intense, method of establishing evidence for an Intervention that has the potential to increase positive behaviors and reduce negative behaviors in children with ASD. Margo B.

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Joanne M. Kuwar B. Europe PMC requires Javascript to function effectively. Recent Activity. Three boys with ASD, years of age participated, and counts of target behaviors were collected in each setting and phase of the study. The snippet could not be located in the article text.

Something About a Horse: Finding Benefits in Therapeutic Riding | Interactive Autism Network

This may be because the snippet appears in a figure legend, contains special characters or spans different sections of the article. J Autism Dev Disord. Author manuscript; available in PMC Apr 1.

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PMID: Holm , Joanne M. Corresponding author.

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Holm: ude. Present Address: Y. Kim, Integrated Resources, Inc. Present Address: K. Present Address: D. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at J Autism Dev Disord.

Something About a Horse: Finding Benefits in Therapeutic Riding

See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract We examined whether different doses of therapeutic riding influenced parent-nominated target behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder ASD a during the session b at home, and c in the community. Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, Single subject design, Home, Community.

Introduction While hippotherapy, equine-facilitated psychotherapy, and therapeutic riding have therapeutic use of horses in common, there are distinct differences. Table 1 Examples of therapeutic riding goals for students in the study. Open in a separate window. Participant A Participant A was an 8-year-old boy, who had just completed the 2nd grade. Participant B Participant B was a 6-year-old boy, who had completed kindergarten. Participant C Participant C was a 6-year-old boy, who had completed kindergarten.

click here Table 2 Design of the study and measures taken before and after each phase. Observed Measures of Change Data for observed measures of change were collected during the three phases of the study. Therapeutic Riding Sessions The first author and two graduate students videotaped each riding session. Community Parents recorded the frequency of each targeted behavior in a community setting e. Table 3 Screening and standardized assessments of change.

Because the tool is measuring aberrant behaviors, lower percentile scores are better. Table 4 Summary of observed measures of change for participant A: mean levels and C-statistics. Snapping fingers Again, compared to Baseline, the behavior increased during the riding sessions, and decreased at home during Intervention and during Withdrawal. Table 5 Summary of observed measures of change for participant B: mean levels and C-statistics. Pushing in nose with either hand Compared to Baseline, during Intervention and Withdrawal the behavior decreased during riding sessions, at home, and in the community, and the decrease from Baseline to Intervention in the community was significant see Table 5.

Clapping For both during riding sessions and at home, compared to Baseline, the behavior increased during Intervention and Withdrawal. Table 6 Summary of observed measures of change for participant C: mean levels and C-statistics. Verbal demands of 3 words or more Compared to Baseline, the behavior increased significantly during Intervention and Withdrawal during the riding sessions, and increased in the home and community during Intervention.

Goal-Free Evaluation of Change At the end of the study, each set of parents was interviewed again and asked if they had noticed any changes in their child during the study beyond the identified target behaviors. Contributor Information Margo B. Animals, horseback riding, and implications for rehabilitation therapy. Journal of Rehabilitation. Aberrant behavior checklist—community. New York: Slossen Educational Publications; The aberrant behavior checklist: A behavior rating scale for the assessment of treatment effects.

American Journal of Mental Deficiency. The effect of therapeutic horseback riding on social functioning in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Of patients and horses: Equine-facilitated psychotherapy. Factor analysis and norms for parent ratings on the aberrant behavior checklist-community for young people in special education.