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J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Sep;43(9):2190-8. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1773-3.

The association between therapeutic horseback riding and the social communication and sensory reactions of children with autism.

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School of Education, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185, USA.


This study investigated the association between therapeutic riding (TR) and the social communication and sensory processing skills of 21 elementary students with autism attending TR as part of a school group. An interrupted treatment design was employed to determine whether children were able to maintain treatment effects following the removal of TR. Teacher ratings indicated that participating children with autism significantly increased their social interaction, improved their sensory processing, and decreased the severity of symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders following TR. Gains were not maintained consistently after two 6-week breaks from TR, but were recovered once TR was reinstated. Potential explanations regarding the benefits of TR are discussed, and suggestions for future research provided.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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