Riders with autism, Down syndrome take comfort, confidence on horseback

Children with autism and people with Down syndrome were among the competitors in Sunday’s Kiwanis Equestrian Competition for Special Athletes. Most began riding horses in therapeutic riding programs. Read the LA Times story about the daylong event for riders and their families:

Cathy Sulsona lives in a world where everyone looks down on her in her electric wheelchair. Sometimes passersby look right past her, or have trouble decoding her slurred voice. They see only the cerebral palsy.

But when she climbs on her quarter horse, she rises above them.

“I feel normal,” Sulsona, 43, of Riverside said as she sat next to her horse at Hansen Dam equestrian center. “I’m not looked down on.”

via Disabled riders take comfort, confidence on horseback – latimes.com.

Horse therapy found to help children with autism

Through extensive study of research from leading medical schools, SpiritHorse Therapeutic has developed specific methods for treating autism through equine-assisted therapy.

These methods have been utilized in over 30,000 sessions with children with autism during the past five years.

Following a study in 2009 by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center that showed statistically “Significant Improvement” in 24 children with autism through intervention at SpiritHorse, representatives from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, visited SpiritHorse for its spring, 2009 semester to study the results of the SpiritHorse program.

The study of 47 children with autism spectrum disorder, just released, also showed a statistically “Significant Improvement,” including nine children who, after 10 weeks treatment at SpiritHorse, measured nonautistic on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, a single-blinded measurement.

via Cleveland Daily Banner – Study Equine asisted therapy helps children with autism.