Autism Spectrum Disorder
There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK.
Working with the horses in an experiential way brings a unique experience through discovery learning to help children with autism develop core skills they need to function more effectively in society.
At Time to Shine Kids we work with children on the autism spectrum disorder to support their social, social communication, emotional well-being and mental health including relational trauma i.e. bullying and social anxiety.
Children find this work fun and engaging - without them realising they are in a therapeutic process.
Creating Emotional Bond and Emotional Regulation
Children with autism often find it difficult to understand their (and others) feelings and express them effectively. The horses can create a safe space for children to experience various feelings and emotions and with the help from the facilitators to talk about them, and practice managing them effectively.
The benefits experienced by children are due to the special relationship they develop with the horse.
The unconditional, non-judgmental aspect of the bond between the horse and the child encourages the child to try out how to form a bond with another living being without the pressure and judgement from peers. This learning can be bridged and taken into other interactions which then can improve the child’s abilities with social interactions as well as becoming more skilled in understanding non-verbal communication.
By being with and interacting with the horses we can challenge fixed beliefs. The feedback from the horses enable the learning to occur in the moment as a lived experience i.e.in a practical, doing environment the measure of achievements is clear for the child as the feedback from the horse is immediate.
Greater self-awareness, self-control and boundaries
The key benefits of working with the horses are that it enables the client to gain a sense of body-awareness, help them to develop self-control and be aware of boundaries and personal space.
Cognitive and language skills development
Children with autism often have difficulties with following adults’ directions. By engaging in equine therapy, your child follows directions through a fun activity that makes taking direction easier to grasp and remember.
The creative activities help encourage planning and improve problem solving abilities.
The horses can increase the children's motivation to communicate verbally and non-verbally.
Horses can help children to regulate and improve their attention and concentration skills through paying attention to the horses’ movements.
Children with autism can have emotional outburst and meltdowns as they get overwhelmed with their environment. Being with the horses is proven to be calming and grounding, and is scientifically proven to reduce stress hormone and anxiety. This helps to enable your child to deal with situations differently.
Children with autism can find it difficult to cope with sensory overwhelm. The horses provide a multi-sensory experience.
Research studies / evidence base information
The effectiveness of Equine Assisted Therapies with children on the autism spectrum disorder research demonstrates a key outcome is improved social and executive functioning in children with autism. For more information click here
Equine-Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a comprehensive literature review. For more information click here
NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has more studies on the effectiveness of Equine Assisted therapies. For more information click here
Press articles for horses working with Autistic children
Equestrian Therapy. Horse Therapy for children & adults with special needs. Click here for article.
Not just horsing around … psychologists put their faith in equine therapies. Click here for article.
Derby House Post "Behind the scenes at an equine therapy centre" by Beth Woolway in UK on benefits of EAGALA equine assisted psychotherapy with troubled youth, families and autism. Click here for article.
Funding for Equine Assisted Therapy
Organisations like ASDF offer funding and scholarships for parents who want to take advantage of equine therapy.
Support by ASDF means that financial issues won’t hold you back from giving your child the therapy he needs, providing him with the gift of emotional bonding, communication, and skills that will help him today and continue to enrich his life in the future.
£500 a year funding available to support families with disabled children www.familyfund.org.uk
This is a fund available to the schools for funding interventions to support children in schools.
This is a fund made available to schools to support children with special educational needs.
Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) – funding
Additional funding is made available to the school from the Local Authority to support children with additional needs as identified through the EHCP.