How Hippotherapy Is Helping Improve Individuals with Asd
To help in the improvement of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) many families are turning toward a physical, occupational, and speech and language medical therapy called Hippotherapy. This form of therapy might sound like it involves the Hippopotamus, however it actually involves the use of horses; the root word “hippo” means horse in Latin. Hippotherapy utilizes an equine’s multidimensional movement and its dynamic base of support as a part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes in patients with ASD. ASD is a bio-neurological developmental disability which impacts the normal development of the brain and means that they have difficulty performing functional daily living skills like feeding themselves,
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The occupational therapist can have the individual ride the horse while on all fours (hands and knees) to practice keeping balance. Hand and eye coordination and balance are probably two of the most affected skills that an individual with ASD will have, so it is very important that these skills improve. Many studies have been done that show the improvement in these skill areas, which can be directly attributed to Hippotherapy.
Speech and language pathologists are using Hippotherapy to assist individuals with ASD improve their ability to use and understand verbal and non-verbal speech (PATH International, 2012). By utilizing the horse’s movement to facilitate the physiologic systems that support speech and language in combination with other standard speech and language intervention strategies, Hippotherapy generates effective remediation of communication disorders (American Hippotherapy Association, 2010). Hippotherapy also, boosts functional communication outcomes related to an individual’s ability to use and understand verbal speech like instructions or commands. The speech and language pathologist can instruct the individual to mount and dismount the horse to improve on the intake and use of instructions. Having the individual give verbal commands to the horse shows the individual that when a command is given they are to follow it, just like the horse did. By utilizing the horse’s movement to facilitate the physiologic systems that support speech