Research Article  |   September 2016
Equine-Assisted Occupational Therapy: Increasing Engagement for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations
  • Cecilia Llambias, MScOT, is Graduate Student, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Cecilujan@gmail.com
  • Joyce Magill-Evans, PhD, is Professor Emerita, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Veronica Smith, PhD, is Associate Chair, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Sharon Warren, PhD, is Professor Emerita, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Complementary/Alternative Approaches / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   September 2016
Equine-Assisted Occupational Therapy: Increasing Engagement for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2016, Vol. 70, 7006220040p1-7006220040p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2016.020701
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2016, Vol. 70, 7006220040p1-7006220040p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2016.020701
Abstract

Engagement in meaningful activities is essential to development and is often reduced in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have limited engagement in activities or relationships. A multiple-baseline design was used with 7 children with ASD ages 4–8 yr to assess the effect of including a horse in occupational therapy intervention on task engagement. The children showed improvements in engagement. Including horses in occupational therapy sessions may be a valuable addition to conventional treatments to increase task engagement of children with ASD. Factors related to the environment, therapeutic strategies, and individual participation need to be considered in understanding why this intervention may be effective and developing a theoretical basis for implementation.