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Equine-assisted therapy as intervention for motor proficiency in children with autism spectrum disorder: Case studies

Monique De Milander
Samantha Bradley
Rykie Fourie


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder display a range of challenging difficulties in all aspects of their daily living routines. Due to these challenges, parents look for various interventions that will improve the quality of life of their children. The  objective of this study was to determine whether an Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT) intervention would result in an improvement of balance, upper-limb coordination and strength. Two case studies were conducted, where one female (9 years and 4 months) and one male (8 years and 7 months) participated in a 10-week EAT  intervention. Motor proficiency was evaluated by means of a pre-post-test research design using selected composites of the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor  Proficiency (BOT-2). Individual changes were observed in balance, upper-limb  coordination and strength. EAT interventions could provide a suitable alternative approach for children on this spectrum who experience impairments in low muscle tone, repetitive motor movements, poor motor planning, postural instability, difficulty sequencing a task, as well as poor gross motor performance. Larger studies  involving more participants are suggested to ascertain if these findings can be generalised.

Key words: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Equine-assisted intervention; Motor proficiency; Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency; Balance; Upper-limb coordination; Strength.