Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Effectiveness of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Social Skills of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Shiraz, Iran

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Effectiveness of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Social Skills of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Shiraz, Iran

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of therapeutic horseback riding on social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder. Participants were 6 children with autism spectrum disorder in a special education center for autistic children in Shiraz, Iran. The hypothesis of the study was that participants would demonstrate significant improvement in social skills following a 4-week horseback riding intervention. Using a One Group Pre and Post Test design, the Stone's social skills Scale was administered to assess the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder as pretest. Then the subjects participated in a 4-week therapeutic horseback riding program consisting of two 45 minute session of riding per week. After completion of the 4-week intervention the post-test was administered. Paired-samples t-test was utilized to analyze the data. The results indicated that therapeutic horseback riding improves affective understanding and perspective taking, initiating interactions and maintaining interactions significantly. It can be concluded that therapeutic horseback riding has a positive effect on social skills improvement.

Keywords: children with autism, social skills, therapeutic horseback riding

1. Introduction

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction significantly and generally appears before 3 years old (Smith et al, 2011). Social deficits are intrinsic to the definition of autism spectrum disorder From Kanner's (1943) original conceptualization to the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2000) (Koach, 2000). Social deficits observed in children with autism spectrum disorder may include: difficulties in understanding the facial expressions of others, initiating social interactions with others, lack of responding to social initiations made by others (Hauck, Fein, Waterhouse, & Feinstein, 1995) lack of responding to the emotions of others (Sigman, Kasari, Kwon, & Yirmiya, 1992), deficits in showing directing attention (Stone, Coonrod, & Ousley, 2000), lack of interest in other children, absence of or limited use of gestures such as pointing, to share enjoyment with others, absence of or limited imitation skills and lack of friendship seeking behavior (Ingersoll, Lewiss, &Kroman, 2007).

The treatment of social skills deficits remains one of the most challenging areas in meeting the needs of people with autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, it is necessary to plan and accomplish appropriate interventional programs to improve their social skills (Scottone et al, 2006). In this regard, various interventional methods and programs have been developed and applied throughout world. One of these therapeutic methods is "Therapeutic Horseback Riding". A variety of researchers have studied the efficacy of therapeutic horseback riding on the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder and emphasized its positive results. As an example, Bass et al (2009) have studied the influence of therapeutic horseback riding on the social functioning of children with autism. In their research, 34 children with autism (19 children in an experimental group and 15 in the control group) took part in therapeutic horseback riding for one 60 minute session per week, over a period of 12 weeks. The results indicated that autistic children exposed to therapeutic horseback riding exhibited greater sensory seeking, sensory sensitivity, social motivation, and less inattention, and distractibility behaviors and concluded that therapeutic horseback riding may be a viable therapeutic option in treating children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Also, King (2007) has studied the effect of therapeutic horseback riding on social behaviors in children with autism. The participants were 5 children with autism who were under the intervention for one 120 minute session over a period of 10 weeks. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.