ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder): Individuals with Asperger’s, Autistic Spectrum, and Pervasive Development Disorders often struggle with issues involving both verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, sensory stimulation, behavior, perspective, and focus. At LEAP, our horses and trained professionals are a powerful team uniquely situated to work together to help individuals resolve these issues
Verbal Communication: Horses are large and powerful animals that are constantly engaged in their environment. Their movements and behaviors are often curios and exciting for children and may encourage children to spontaneously comment on, communicate about what they are experiencing, and ask questions about their experience.
Non-verbal Communication: As herd animals, horses are excellent at non-verbal communication as evolution as required them to work together to survive. Individuals with Asperger’s, Autistic Spectrum, and Pervasive Development Disorders may be especially motivated to learn more about the horses’ communication patterns when asked to work with them. They may also appreciate a break from the often verbal world of neurotypical adults and children.
Social Interactions: Horses are extremely social animals, their use as team members in session allows clients to practice correct social behavior such as risking eye contact or verbal communication and then use these new skills with the professionals and other clients.
Sensory Issues: Spending time with the horses allows for constant stimulation of many senses at once. The scents of hay and animals, sounds of horses thundering through the pasture or neighing at one another, the sight of a horse rolling on the ground with joy, the sensation of touching a soft muzzle, wiry mane, or soft coat are all part of the experience with the horses. These experiences may help the child engage in the session, interact with the horses and with other people, plus increase awareness of their environment as well as increase tolerance to sensory stimulation.
Behavioral Issues: Horses respond instantly and non-judgmentally to behavior. They provide an excellent natural training environment because they constantly provide quick and honest feedback. With the help of the professionals, this can become an excellent way to get results quickly and help clients change and learn more effective behaviors.