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HOW HIPPOTHERAPY CAN HELP CHILDREN WITH AUTISM UTM Equine Park, Skudai Johor Amigos Horse Riding, Tanjong Puteri Resort, Pasir Gudang Johor Pahang Equestrian Centre, Tanjung Lumpur Kuantan The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with a brief outline of what hippotherapy is (and what it’s not) how it works how it benefits children with autism Armed with this knowledge, parents will be better prepared when they opt to pursue equine-assisted therapy for their children. What is Hippotherapy? First of all, it is important to understand that not all equine-assisted therapy is hippotherapy. The two approaches in  equine-assisted therapy are Therapeutic riding (also known as Adaptive Riding) Hippotherapy Hippotherapy -on the other hand, hippotherapy is the purposeful manipulation of a horse’s 3-dimentional natural movement to  engage the child’s sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems in order to achieve functional outcomes. Unlike Therapeutic Riding, hippotherapy does not put any emphasis on horsemanship skills and it is always administered  by trained, professional therapists (occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, etc). TR and hippotherapy are different equine-assisted approaches that are driven by different goals and methodologies.  This article addresses only the approach known as hippotherapy. How Does Hippotherapy Work? At this point it is important to remind ourselves that hippotherapy is NOT about horsemanship skills. Instead,  hippotherapy is the science of using of a horse’s natural 3-dimensional movement to address the patient’s medical condition. Musculo-skeletal issues The horse’s rhythmic gait, and repetitive movements provides physical, and sensory feedback to the patient. This in turn,  have been shown to be able to correct  the following conditions in the patient coordination muscle tones postural balance stiffness flexibility endurance strength correction of abnormal movement pattern Sensory issues Vestibular awareness (balance) Proprioception – spatial awareness Visual, auditory and olfactory awareness Tactile awareness Speech, Language, and Communication Issues Further, communication with the horse itself (through both verbal and nonverbal signals) can promote better understanding  of “communication rules” which can be transferred into practical applications for a client’s daily communication needs.