Local hospital, horse center create unique therapy for kids on autism spectrum
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 — Emily Valerio
Eau Claire (WQOW) - A local hospital and horse center are combining resources to create a unique form of therapy for kids on the autism spectrum.
While you wouldn't know it at first glance it's only 8-year-old Shaelin's third day sitting in the saddle.
"Shaelin has never ridden before except for at a fair so she's really, really excited and it's brought a lot of animation out in her," said her aunt, Chris Hebert.
Shaelin is one of eight kids participating in the first ever Autism Immersion Camp at Trinity Equestrian.
"A lot of the kids have trouble with being spontaneous. They like things very much their way, structured, scheduled and that doesn't always happen out here," said Dr. Amy Haynes, from HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital.
Trinity Equestrian teamed up to with St. Joseph's Hospital to take what they already do to a new level.
Owner of Trinity Equestrian Toni Mattson said, "We do therapeutic riding, they do speech therapy, they do occupational therapy, physical therapy and each of us, independently, work with kiddos with autism. So our entire week is what is it going to look like if we put our two programs together?"
Haynes said, "The horses are such a huge motivating factor for the kids that we can really kind of use that to get some different skills or activities out of them that we can't normally get."
The horses don't interrupt or judge, they're all ears. "A lot of these kids struggle with interpreting emotions and being able to feed back and have a conversation with another person," Haynes said. "So we've been working on how to read the horses expressions and what does it mean when the horse has his ears back? How do we respond when they feel that way? So that hopefully they can carry that over to social skills as well."
Not only did the kids work with the horses they also helped clean the stables and put equipment where it belongs. Organizers told News 18 that those activities help with sensory and motor skills.
There will be another camp held August 17 through August 20. Interested individuals can click here or call 715-835-4530.
View the article at the WQOQ 18 website: