Riding the MiraColt™ as part of a Therapy Protocol, Improves the Interpersonal Skills, Speech Quality, Social Interactivity, & Learning Ability of People with Autism
Although the MiraColt does not provide a similar relationship to that which a child can have with a horse, 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, 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.
“A child who could not clap a rhythm is now able to due to learning while riding Horsie [the MiraColt]. He can now clap on the beat with his classmates. Why does it matter? Because rhythm translates to the later ability to read.
Another child who could scarcely focus for three minutes, returned after 7-minute Horsie [MiraColt] sessions to his classroom, happily sat down to his work, and finished his task.
One little boy reaches a state of extreme calm only while riding Chariot [the MiraColt]. It is the magic sauce for helping him become ready for his daily nap.
“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 a singularly critical piece of equipment that 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)
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.