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1 The Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on the Social Functioning ...

1 The Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on the Social Functioning ...

1 The Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on the Social Functioning

ong>Theong> ong>Effectsong> ong>ofong> ong>Equineong> ong>Assistedong> ong>Activitiesong> on the Social Functioning ong>ofong> Children with Autism Margaret M. Bass, Ph.D. Maria Llabre, Ph.D. Autism is a spectrum disorder with a range ong>ofong> complex neurodevelopment symptoms that is four times more prevalent in males than females (American Psychiatric Association, 2007). This disorder knows no racial, ethnic, social boundaries, family income, lifestyle, or educational levels and can affect any family, and any child. ong>Theong> indicators ong>ofong> ASD are ong>ofong>ten present before age 3, and are ong>ofong>ten accompanied with deficits in the following areas: cognitive performance, learning, attention, communication, socialization, behavioral development and sensory processing. According to the Autism Society ong>ofong> America, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability, which is estimated to have between a ten to seventeen percent growth rate each year (Autism Society, 2010). According to a recent report by the CDC, the prevalence ong>ofong> Autism has risen to 1 in 110 births. This means that as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have an autism spectrum disorder (Department ong>ofong> Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). ong>Equineong> ong>Assistedong> ong>Activitiesong>, consist ong>ofong> a broad variety ong>ofong> equestrian programs that can include therapeutic riding, driving, vaulting and un-mounted sessions that provide the individual with a disability the opportunity to achieve their individualized goals (NARHA, 2010). ong>Theong> EAA lessons are developed and implemented by a certified NARHA instructor to meet the student's goals, which is directly dependent on their purpose for participation (i.e.: recreation, therapeutic, &/or sports competition). ong>Theong>se EAA programs are not considered therapy, but are viewed as therapeutic if a participant is able to show improvement within one or more ong>ofong> the following areas: physical, social, emotional or educational (NARHA, 2010). ong>Theong>se EAA activities can take place on the ground and during mounted sessions, thus giving the individual a safe and meaningful equestrian experience. For an individual with Autism, 1

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