Horses and Autism...

Ever have something so amazing happen, that you can't believe your luck? Well, today was such a day.

My son, Wolfe (aged 5) was diagnosed with autism back in April of 2013, and his delays were quite severe at the time. While very bright, he had severe speech apraxia (not talking, just gibberish) and had some sensory and anxiety issues. Once I had the diagnosis, getting him into an early intervention program was imperative and I'm happy to say that now 18 months later, his progress has been nothing short of awesome. He's always been incredibly intelligent and his problem solving skills floor me. He has a confidence in himself (especially this school year), that he didn't have last year. He struggles a bit with core strength, and balance though, and I see that he's getting the hang of jumping, and throwing (while most of you might think I'm mad for wanting my kid to run, jump and yell, it truly is wonderful!). A few weeks ago one of our therapists' suggested I get in touch with a local Doctor, who specializes in cognitive psychology Well, we met with her today and it was so cool. Turns out, she uses horses in her therapy. Thoroughbreds no less. She's a breeder/owner, and races as well. It was all I could do, to focus on us being there for my son, because, well.. HORSES! lol

She has a great philosophy.. "There is no finer MIRROR of our true nature than the HORSE." Horses give honest and immediate feedback. This is important for autistic children, as quite often they struggle with "reading" people. We're quite complicated to them. We often speak in riddles, or use humour and sarcasm. Autistics are often very literal in their thinking. If you say something, they take it as truth. Horses also need you to be completely present, something that helps an autistic child learn how to focus and not think about future anxieties.

Anyway, today we met a beautiful mare, named A Hit Indeed and her beautiful foal by Wilko. We'll be working with both of them, and we're very excited! I share, because if anyone can appreciate this, it's all of you! I'm sure lots of pics will be coming soon. ;)
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Comments

  • Is this her? She was in foal to Wilko at the time of this ad and she is the daughter of Alydeed.

    http://www.equinenow.com/horse-ad-502491
  • That is her! Her colt is quite lovely. He & Wolfie hammed it up pretty good. I think A Hit Indeed & I bonded while watching our children frolic.. haha
  • What an exciting discussion thread. Thank you for starting it, Senaks. I look forward to hearing about your first hand experience with this relatively new kind of therapy.
  • Thank you, VA_in_CA. It is unique, in that there will be no riding involved. It's a quiet interaction, observational therapy, where the child and horses mingle. For instance, today, we sat quietly, as the mare and foal grazed. Then, the foal came over and nibbled on my son's hat, tickling his head. So of course, they're now best friends. So cute.
  • Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I'm looking forward to pictures and updates. :) I love that horses are used in therapy. The friendship between the foal and your son sounds so sweet!
  • So happy Wolfe has made friends with A Hit Indeed's foal! I hope you can take photos of these wonderful interactions...waiting for your next update as well. Can't wait. Are the sessions once a week or twice? Hope it's twice a week...although I would love a daily update. :oD
  • Oh, this is wonderful! I've heard about horses being used for therapy like this, but never knew anyone who experienced it. I also cannot wait to hear more about this and how it helps your son (and you)! Please keep sharing updates and photos if you can. I can't wait to hear how it is going!

    I saw a wonderful video recently showing a boy with something called William's Syndrome, which I'm not familiar with, but it was awesome seeing this little guy interacting with this beautiful horse. If I can find it again, I'll post it. It was beautiful.
  • Mea Ola's place is scheduled to have its first therapy session using horses for survivors of sexual abuse at Fort Irwin in CA tomorrow. I love that horses are being used to get through to people who are closed off for one reason or another.
    >>>>>
    https://www.facebook.com/OperationHorseRescue/info
    About
    Rescue, rehabilitation, therapeutic horsemanship ( www.meaola.com) Federal tax-exempt status pending
    Mission
    We are finding and/or providing homes for rescued horses. Our goal and focus is to use them with individuals that have special needs, foster children, at risk youth, and individuals recovering from addictions. Each horse has a job and purpose even if they can no longer be ridden. We have several special needs horses and seniors that give so much love and are still useful for therapy.
    <<<<<
  • Horses have a quiet energy. that can have a powerful effect on some. I remember watching an interview with the "Horse Whisperer", Monty Roberts, where he said quite often his clinics became intense therapy sessions for the people, and not the hoses so much. "Fix yourself and you fix the horse". If I recall, he also fostered at risk youth, and used horses as an example of honest living. It's fascinating stuff, for sure. I'm excited to see where this goes, and I thank you all for your words. :)
  • There is nothing like being in the presence of a horse. Next time you are with A Hit Indeed, stand next to her (if you can do that) with shoulder beside her shoulder. Feel your pulse on your neck, then touch the horse with your other hand. While touching the horse, feel your pulse again. Your pulse will be much slower and in sync with the horses pulse :) I learned this from my boyfriends friend who has horses of her own. She showed me that one day and i was forever amazed.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited October 2014
    Wonderful video louisecastello! That handsome palomino looked like an Arab. He/she was so very careful not to scare the little boy with the genetic problem (William's Syndrome) and stood very still for the boy to touch him/her too! Awesome!
  • Thanks for posting the article and video Louise! That is such a sweet video! I just about cried.
  • Lots of heartwarming info on these new threads about horses used in therapy. Thankis all for posting.
  • Speaking of therapy groups using horses, here is the latest post from Mea Ola's Place:

    >>>>>
    Today, our logo says it all! We have done therapy on small scale, thus far...but, today, we are really living the dream. The horses are doing their work with 11 women in the Army from Fort Irwin. This is the first of three sessions. Our live ranch cams will be off today, as to respect everyone's privacy. Thanks for understanding and thanks for supporting M.O.P. This is a service we provide for free.
    <<<<<

  • Here's the logo for the post above. Tinypics wouldn't let me post in the same window.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
  • Mea Ola.. she was the first mare I followed on mare stare.
  • VA_in_CAVA_in_CA Member
    edited October 2014
    That would have been when Sassy was born? A little over 2 years ago. Interesting. I didn't discover this place until they got Babs and Tillie earlier this year and then once I found Rowdy, I was hooked. I went to Rowdy's barbecue and plan to go back some time later this month or early next month. I'll get to meet Mea Ola up close then. I only saw her from a little distance back in August when Ann took me on a quick tour by golf cart.

    I wish I could find a place nearby that does therapy for older folks. They say riding a horse is good for people with hip problems and helps also with balance. I wouldn't want to go to just a riding stable, I don't think, because the horses would have to be very trustworthy and gentle for old folks, as falling off could be very serious for someone with old and brittle bones.
  • VA_in_CA search therapeutic riding in your area. Most places lease horses from the stable they are based at. I started riding through therapeutic riding. I have ADHD, borderline Aspbergers syndrome (autism) and have Nonverbal learning disability. I now ride at a local stable, and compete for my colleges show team!
  • Good for you EriNC! I wish they had had such facilities and services available when I was a kid. I have Asperger's syndrome, too and was painfully shy as a kid. But I adored horses. It would have thrilled me beyond words to have the opportunity to ride a horse more than once every 2 or 3 years after begging my father to take me to a stable that rented out horses. It would have given me a chance to have friends because I would have been with compatible people with a similar passion for horses instead of the peculiar odd-girl out.. In my day we didn't even know about the syndrome. My mom thought I was deliberately acting the way I did just to annoy her. I wish she had lived long enough to know it wasn't my fault or anybody's for that matter. They didn't even know about it (except in some esoteric psychiatric circles) when my son was a kid and that was only in the 70s and 80s. I know, to you, that's ancient times. My son has a pretty severe degree of it and fortunately landed in a field that works for him--computers. And when I read in a book that the syndrome in the child is not the parents' fault or the child's, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

    We are the nerds of the world. We keep the world moving forward. Yeay for us. I was tutoring a kid last year with diagnosed Asperger's syndrome, and I finally confessed to him that I had it too, but I hadn't mentioned it before because I didn't want to sound like I was bragging. It's all in the attitude.

    I bet swimming would help with the learning disabilities, too. You don't have to compete, just do it for fun. The patterning of left arm, right leg; right arm, left leg is good for humans. I guess we don't have the opportunity that 4-legged creatures do when they trot. As a baby, did you crawl? I never did, and neither did my son. We didn't get that patterning.

    Fascinating topic. Better quit now before I monopolize the whole discussion. lol
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited October 2014
    VA_in_CA search therapeutic riding in your area. Most places lease horses from the stable they are based at. I started riding through therapeutic riding. I have ADHD, borderline Aspbergers syndrome (autism) and have Nonverbal learning disability. I now ride at a local stable, and compete for my colleges show team!
    EriNC...I congratulate you in conquering these very difficult obstacles and still come out ahead! I am so glad your parents were wise enough to provide you with the proper foundation therapy that enabled you to progress in education and life successfully! I never, ever suspected you had any of these "issues" at all during your past postings!

  • VA_in_CA search therapeutic riding in your area. Most places lease horses from the stable they are based at. I started riding through therapeutic riding. I have ADHD, borderline Aspbergers syndrome (autism) and have Nonverbal learning disability. I now ride at a local stable, and compete for my colleges show team!
    EriNC...I congratulate you in conquering these very difficult obstacles and still come out ahead! I am so glad your parents were wise enough to provide you with the proper foundation therapy that enabled you to progress in education and life successfully! I never, ever suspected you had any of these "issues" at all during your past postings!

    For me personally it is much easier to communicate over the internet versus face to face. I dont have to try to read facial cues, and nonverbal behaviors. The most I have to do is decipher tone through what people are posting. Face to face contact is much harder. I have improved as I have gotten older, but I am definitely an introvert, and prefer reading in my room to doing anything socially. One of my biggest problems is with sensory issues. Loud noises stress me out. I have oping mechanisms for most of my outward signs of stress in Elementary, middle, and High school I would rock when overwhelmed. Now that I am older (26) I have substituted behaviors for instance instead of rocking I rub my legs in a back and forth motion. I also rely heavily on drinks (non-alcoholic) to help calm me down. I am completely unmedicated by choice, but I also have found that caffeine helps a great deal. I also find it extremely hard to sit and focus for more than 75 minutes ( 3 hour lectures are the bane of my existence).
  • Good for you EriNC! I wish they had had such facilities and services available when I was a kid. I have Asperger's syndrome, too and was painfully shy as a kid. But I adored horses. It would have thrilled me beyond words to have the opportunity to ride a horse more than once every 2 or 3 years after begging my father to take me to a stable that rented out horses. It would have given me a chance to have friends because I would have been with compatible people with a similar passion for horses instead of the peculiar odd-girl out.. In my day we didn't even know about the syndrome. My mom thought I was deliberately acting the way I did just to annoy her. I wish she had lived long enough to know it wasn't my fault or anybody's for that matter. They didn't even know about it (except in some esoteric psychiatric circles) when my son was a kid and that was only in the 70s and 80s. I know, to you, that's ancient times. My son has a pretty severe degree of it and fortunately landed in a field that works for him--computers. And when I read in a book that the syndrome in the child is not the parents' fault or the child's, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

    We are the nerds of the world. We keep the world moving forward. Yeay for us. I was tutoring a kid last year with diagnosed Asperger's syndrome, and I finally confessed to him that I had it too, but I hadn't mentioned it before because I didn't want to sound like I was bragging. It's all in the attitude.

    I bet swimming would help with the learning disabilities, too. You don't have to compete, just do it for fun. The patterning of left arm, right leg; right arm, left leg is good for humans. I guess we don't have the opportunity that 4-legged creatures do when they trot. As a baby, did you crawl? I never did, and neither did my son. We didn't get that patterning.

    Fascinating topic. Better quit now before I monopolize the whole discussion. lol
    Yes I did crawl, but I was walking by 12 months so I didnt get as much time as most babies do.

  • There you go.
  • EriNC...I can somewhat empathize regarding the issues of being introverted and avoiding communicating with groups of people face to face. After my dad died, I went into an introverted shell and it took me years to feel comfortable talking face to face to others. Till today, I hate crowded areas...like in the airplane or crowded shopping malls.
    I applaud you for your honesty and glad you found comfort in this forum...this is a great family to share with.
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