1Izmir Katip Celebi University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Child Psychiatry, Izmir, Turkey
2Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University, Faculty of Education, Department of Physical Education and Sport Education, Nevşehir, Turkey
3Ankara City Hospital, Department of Child Development, Ankara, Turkey
Equine Assisted Activities Have Positive Effects on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Family Functioning
Equine-assisted activities (EAA) have emerged as a new method of treatment for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in recent years. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of EAA in the areas of social functioning, autistic behaviours, family functioning, and clinical severity for children diagnosed with ASD. The participants were 24 children (4-12 years old) diagnosed with ASD and their mothers. Subjects were randomized into two groups, and the programme consisted of eight sessions of EAA. A social communication questionnaire and clinical global impression scale were used to evaluate the severity of autistic behaviours, and family assessment device was used for family functioning, while the Beck Depression Inventory was used to evaluate the severity of maternal depression. The results suggested that the severity of ASD decreases and improvements in maternal mental health and family functioning were observed in the experimental group, while no significant results were observed in the control group. This study provided preliminary evidence that an eight-week EAA can provide significant improvements in terms of both family and child functioning for children diagnosed with ASD. Further studies in larger samples are needed to investigate these effects.
autism spectrum disorder, equine-assisted activity, maternal mental health
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
Avcil, S., Baykara, B., Baydur, H., Münir, K. M., & Emiroğlu, N. İ. (2015). The Validity and Reliability of The Social Communication Questionnaire-Turkish Form in Autistics Aged 4-18 Years. Türk psikiyatri dergisi= Turkish journal of psychiatry, 26(1), 56.
Barak, Y., Savorai, O., Mavashev, S., & Beni, A. (2001). Animal-assisted therapy for elderly schizophrenic patients: A one-year controlled trial. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry, 9(4), 439-442.
Bass, M. M., Duchowny, C. A., & Llabre, M. M. (2009). The effect of therapeutic horseback riding on social functioning in children with autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 39(9), 1261-1267. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0734-3
Beck, A. T., Ward, C., & Mendelson, M. (1961). Beck depression inventory (BDI). Archives of general psychiatry, 4(6), 561-571.
Beresford, B. A. (1994). Resources and strategies: How parents cope with the care of a disabled child. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35(1), 171-209.
Bulut, I. (1990). Aile değerlendirme ölçeği el kitabı. Ankara: Özgüzeliş Matbaası, 6-8.
Dingman, A. (2008). Hoof prints: Equine therapy for autistic children. Encounter, 21(4), 11-13.
Epstein, N. B., Baldwin, L. M., & Bishop, D. S. (1983). The McMaster family assessment device*. Journal of marital and family therapy, 9(2), 171-180.
Esposito, L., McCardle, P., Maholmes, V., McCune, S., & Griffin, J. A. (2011). Introduction. In P. McCardle, S. McCune, J. A. Griffin, L. Esposito, & L. S. Freund (Eds.), Animals in our lives: Human– animal interaction in family, community, and therapeutic settings (pp. 1–5). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.
Flynt, S. W., Wood, T. A., & Scott, R. L. (1992). Social support of mothers of children with mental retardation. Mental retardation, 30(4), 233.
Gabriels, R. L., Agnew, J. A., Holt, K. D., Shoffner, A., Zhaoxing, P., Ruzzano, S., et al. (2012). Pilot study measuring the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on school-age children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(2), 578–588.
Grundtvig Project ‘Taught me How to Walk’ Developed between Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia, Copyprint S.n.c.-Centro Copia Stampa, July 2014.
Hisli-Sahin, N. (1988). Beck Depresyon Envanteri’nin gecerligi uzerine bir calisma. Türk Psikoloji Dergisi, 6(22), 118-126.
Jenkins, S. R. & DiGennaro Reed, F. D. 2013. An experimental analysis of the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on the behavior of children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 7(6), 721–740.
Katcher, A. H., & Wilkins, G. G. (1998). Animal-assisted therapy in the treatment of disruptive behavior disorder in childhood. In A. Lundberg (Ed.), The environment and mental health (pp. 193–204). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Kern, J. K., Fletcher, C. L., Garver, C. R., Mehta, J. A., Grannemann, B. D., Knox, K. R., et al. (2011). Prospective trial of equine assisted activities in autism spectrum disorder. Alternative Therapies, 17(3), 14–20.
Kornblatt, E. S., & Heinrich, J. (1985). Needs and coping abilities in families of children with developmental disabilities. Mental Retardation, 23(1), 13.
Kruger, K. A., & Serpell, J. A. (2010). Animal-assisted interventions in mental health: Definitions and theoretical foundations. In A. H. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (3rd ed., pp. 33–48). San Diego: Academic Press.
Lanning, B. A., Baier, M. E. M., Ivey-Hatz, J., Krenek, N., & Tubbs, J. D. (2014). Effects of equine assisted activities on autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 44(8), 1897-1907. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2062-5
Limbers, C. A., Heffer, R. W., & Varni, J. W. (2009). Health-related quality of life and cognitive functioning from the perspective of parents of school-aged children with Asperger’s Syndrome utilizing the PedsQLTM. Journal of Autism Developmental Disorders, 39, 1529–1541.
Roach, M. A., Orsmond, G. I., & Barratt, M. S. (1999). Mothers and fathers of children with Down syndrome: Parental stress and involvement in childcare. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 104(5), 422-436.
Rothe, E. Q., Vega, B. J., Torres, R. M., Soler, S. M., & Pazos, R. M. (2005). From kids and horses: Equine facilitated psychotherapy for children. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 5(2), 373–383.
Schultz, P. N., Remick-Barlow, G. A., & Robbins, L. (2007). Equine assisted psychotherapy: A mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra-family violence. Health and Social Care in the Community, 15(3), 265–271.
Seligman, M., & Darling, R. B. (1997). Ordinary families, special children: A systems approach to childhood disability. New York: The Guilford Press
Seltzer, M. M., Shattuck, P., Abbeduto, L., & Greenberg, J. S. (2004). Trajectory of development in adolescents and adults with autism. Mental retardation and developmental disabilities research reviews, 10(4), 234-247.
Serpell, J. A. (2006). Animal-assisted interventions in historical perspective. In A. H. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (2nd ed., pp. 3–20). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Shaffer, D., Gould, M. S., Brasic, J., Ambrosini, P., Fisher, P., Bird, H., & Aluwahlia, S. (1985). A children’s global assessment scale (CGAS) (for children 4 to 16 years of age). Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 21(4), 747–748.
Uruk, A. Ç., Sayger, T. V., & Cogdal, P. A. (2007). Examining the influence of family cohesion and adaptability on trauma symptoms and psychological wellbeing. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 22(2), 51-63.
Vandeleur, C. L., Jeanpretre, N., Perrez, M., & Schoebi, D. (2009). Cohesion, Satisfaction With Family Bonds, and Emotional Well‐Being in Families With Adolescents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71(5), 1205-1219.
Ward, S. C., Whalon, K., Rusnak, K., Wendell, K., & Paschall, N. (2013). The association between therapeutic horseback riding and the social communication and sensory reactions of children with autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 43(9), 2190-2198. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1773-3.
Ward, S. C., Whalon, K., Stiles, K., & Smith, A. (2011). The effects of therapeutic horseback riding on children with autism. San Francisco, CA: Poster presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists.
Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (2011). The brief family distress scale: A measure of crisis in caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20 (4), 521–528.