Equine-Assisted Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Hippotherapy for Autism
The MiraColt, suitable to use both at home and at a therapy center, is proven to offer recognizable symptom relief for people struggling with ASD. This device is used to simulate horseback riding utilized primarily for hippotherapy.
Whether your child is on the autism spectrum or you work with children in a clinical setting, you know that the right therapeutic approach can make a difference in any child’s development. When parents and professionals use equine-assisted therapy for autism spectrum disorders, they often see a measurable improvement in symptoms.
What Are the Benefits of Hippotherapy for Autism?
Scientific research has shown that there’s a strong connection between hippotherapy and autism symptoms. Hippotherapy requires engagement from the participant—this is an area where many children and adolescents on the autism spectrum may struggle. Studies have shown a reduction in the severity of ASD symptoms, including hyperactivity, following prolonged participation in equine-assisted therapy.
What’s more, recent research suggests even greater breakthroughs when riding therapy is combined with additional brain-building activities. It was observed that this approach correlated with an improvement in coordination and dexterity. Researchers and behavioral scientists continue to find evidence that hippotherapy has a significant impact on symptoms observed in those with autism.
Because we have 16 years of experience with trauma-affected children, we are able to segment the results of one type of intervention such as Chariot [The MiraColt], particularly when what we are seeing is dramatic as well as long-lasting. Our Nurture Center Director, Donna Losak, has said that Chariot [the MiraColt] is asingularly critical piece of equipmentthat brings to the proprioceptive and vestibular sensory systems a type of input we would not be able to offer otherwise.Susan Cowley, Founder, Talitha Koum Institute in Waco, Texas (April 2019)
As a horseback riding simulator used for Autism, the MiraColt does not provide a similar relationship to that which a child can have with a horse, but it does produce a sensorimotor input that has a significant impact on individuals with autism.
The MiraColt, inspired by the benefits realized by using horses in hippotherapy for autism, reproduces the complex and natural three-dimensional motion patterns experienced when walking or riding a horse. The MiraColt, by simulating this motion, provides carefully graded motor and sensory inputs that engage sensory and cognitive systems. These inputs result in improvements in thought, behavior, relational, and task processing, as well as functional outcomes.
The MiraColt reproduces natural motion patterns
The MiraColt is a therapeutic medical device designed to realistically reproduce the complex and natural three-dimensional motion patterns experienced when walking or when riding a horse. This simulated movement, during therapy, stimulates neural pathways and the muscular system by delivering carefully graded motor and sensory inputs.
What is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States. It causes developmental difficulties in communication, cognition (or thought processing), social interactions and certain restricted repetitive behaviors, activities or interests.
This affects social skills, speech, nonverbal communication, and self-regulation. Autism spectrum disorder is complex, being a group of four more specific diagnoses, so the degree to which a child is affected by this disability can greatly vary based on a “spectrum level.” Whereas some forms of autism in adults can require close monitoring and daily support, people with high functioning autism can operate independently with consistent routine and structure.
Signs of autism can be seen in children as early as 18 months, but usually appear by age 2 or 3. It affects boys 3-4x more than girls, with girls typically expressing less obvious ASD signals than boys. Research suggests that early intervention for people with autism leads to better outcomes later in life and does significantly limit the symptomatic impacts of the disease on both the affected child and their care giving family.
The MiraColt™, as a horse riding simulator device, is an effective tool in the intervention for people with autism. The device, used as a complement in assisted behavior and speech therapy for individuals with autism, aids in improvement of social and motor skills, as well as reducing irritability and hyperactivity.
The MiraColt’s versatility allows it to help meet the needs of individuals with autism, wherever they are. It not only serves as an enhancement to therapeutic practices in clinics, but also allows families to utilize the device in the privacy of their own home. Rather than serving as a replacement to traditional therapy, the MiraColt™ seeks to amplify ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), physical, speech, and cognitive behavioral therapy to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism.
The MiraColt also serves as a teaching aid for kids, where cognitive improvements are directly transferable to the classroom setting. Studies show these benefits result in improved educational development and social interactivity for individuals with autism. It has also shown to reduce care-related stress for their families and granted them greater freedom.
As already stated, the MiraColt cannot provide much of the emotional connection between a real horse and an individual with autism. However, by reproducing the complex and natural three-dimensional motion of a horse, it offers significant benefits and solves accessibility challenges for people who cannot get to a horse.
Why the MiraColt™ Is a Life-Changing Alternative
Equine-assisted therapy for autism isn’t always a practical solution for those who need it most. There may be a lack of horseback riding facilities in a given region—plus, bad weather can reduce these opportunities even more. The MiraColt is a mechanical solution that accurately mimics horse movement, so children and adolescents with autism can still experience the benefits of hippotherapy without riding an actual horse.
The MiraColt is safe and affordable. It’s a life-changing addition to any household or clinic. At Chariot Innovations, we strive to make movement therapy accessible to everyone, and we’ve invested substantial time and resources into making this equipment the most effective of its kind. Unlike other simulators, the MiraColt achieves a realistic 3D walking motion. It provides an organic experience that more closely aligns with an authentic horse gait.