Saturday, 11 September 2010

Horses: A Treatment for Autism?

 My Evening With the Ponies
The Horse Boy a story of a family's travels to help their autistic son, has become an international phenomenon.

Rupert Isaccson's book, and soon to be film, is an inspirational look at how he capitalised on his autistic son Rowan's interest in horses and used equine therapy to help treat him. They journey to Mongolia, the home of wild horses and ride with the Shamans.  Miraculously, Rowan starts to heal.

Equine therapy is a well-established treatment for disabled, especially autistic, children as it has been proven that horses can help reduc children's anxiety and help them become more social and emotionally in touch.

Rupert isn't suggesting horses are cure all. Rather, as he said to me in an email to me,  you have to be guided by your child. But the horses certainly seem to have worked wonders for Rowan.

So, inspired by the book, me and a friend books some autism horseriding sessions for our kids. We were lucky to find a heavily subsidised class run through a scheme called Gifthorse.

Never having ridden a horse before, I was slightly nervous of letting my little ones loose on them- so imagine my trepidation when this HUGE horse was brought out for Lyla.

But, immediately, Lyla was at home with the horses and climbed straight up onto Dixie and started riding.

And a beautiful thing started to happen- she couldn't stop grinning.

Up on top of this huge beast, Lyla looked as at relaxed as if she'd always ridden horses, her little face beaming.

And she couldn't wait to go again!

On the strength of this, I booked a lesson for myself: it's definitely not as easy as Lyla made it look.

Climbing onto the horse was an experience my jeans would rather forget and when my horse, Mack, started to trot, I thought I was going to be hurled headlong into the sawdust and I let out a little squeak - apparently a big faux-pas around horses-.......so, sadly not a natural born equestrian. But that won't stop me taking the kids.

If you're interested in trying out equine therapy, Horse Boy Camps are available in Texas with Rupert and his family- they're also just beginning in the UK.

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In other news, thankyou very much to Gemma who writes about her lovely daughter Sophie and her life with CF for giving me the Blog of Substance Award and for saying I'm an amazing writer- not really sure what to say to that except wow, thankyou and I'm really touched! :). Pop over and say hello to Gemma at her fantastic blog Lungs Behaving Badly

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Finally, thankyou to Amelia Critchlow of 101 Bird Tales, who is running a fantastic event on her blog called 'It's Free', where she is very generously giving away something each and every day in September! She very kindly sent me this cute vintage sewing kit which I shall have lots of fun playing with..pop over and check it out!

2 comments:

  1. I agree that some animals (horses and dogs in particular) seem to be sensitive to our kids.
    My autie son loves horse riding, but I had to stop his lessons as his attention span is too short to justify the €15 per (very short!) lesson.
    Hopefully when he's older he will be able to enjoy it for longer periods.
    I just worry that parents will expect their kids to be "cured" following this little boy's story. I am delighted for him, but worry that many other parents may have unrealistic hopes and set themselves up for disappointment.
    It's great that your little girl loves horse riding...I prefer my feet on terra firma!
    XXX

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  2. I think you're right Jean- if they enjoy it and they get something out of it, that's fine...........I don't think I'll be getting back on a horse again either for a bit!

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