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Outcomes in language and social skills as seen in children with autism and developmental disabilities participating in equine assisted activities

By Megan Koenigseder

Category Theses
Abstract

Individuals with developmental disabilities commonly present characteristics that include deficits in social and communicative abilities. A number of intervention strategies have been implemented, but none have proven to be most effective. A somewhat novel approach known as equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) involves the utilization of horses during intervention and has shown to be effective in areas concerning quality of life, social functioning, self-regulation, adaptive behaviors, motor control, and motivation.

The purpose of the current study is to examine the effects of EAA on social skills and expressive language in 2-4 children diagnosed with developmental disability. Participants engaged in 6 weeks of EAA at Equestrian Bridges, a local not-for-profit organization. Sessions were one hour and occurred once a week. Prior to the first session, participants’ guardians completed the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) questionnaires. A conversational language sample was elicited from each of the participants. Each session consisted of time spent learning a new vocabulary word, greeting and brushing miniature horses, leading the horses while engaging in activities, and reviewing the vocabulary word of the day. The final 3 sessions also included horseback riding. Following the last session, participants’ guardians completed the SSIS and BRIEF questionnaires again, and a second conversational language sample was elicited. Results suggested EAA may contribute to increased social skills, fewer problem behaviors, and improved executive function. Gains in expressive language were also noted, such as increased length and ease of conversation.

Submitter

Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2016
Pages 34
Publisher University of Arkansas
Location of Publication Fayetteville, Arkansas
Department Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders
Degree Education
URL http://scholarworks.uark.edu/rhrcuht/44/
Language English
Tags
  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animals in culture
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Autism
  7. Developmental disabilities
  8. Equine-assisted activities
  9. Health
  10. Horses
  11. Languages
  12. Mammals
  13. Pets and companion animals
  14. Physical environment
  15. Service animals
  16. Social Environments
  17. Social Skills