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EFL therapy for young autistic

I have a niece who is autistic. Her grandmother and I were discussing equine therapy and were wondering if you may be able to help us acquire some information. If you could that would be great. She is 3 years old and we have horses within the family, but we are not sure how to introduce her to them without scaring her.

Thank you, Linda

Hello Linda,

I have had the most success with autistic children and horses when the children are somewhat older. The age of 8 years seemed to be the best age for me to begin working with an autistic child and a horse. Much younger than that and the child has to be restrained too much. As safety is paramount and restraint is generally not comfortable for autistic children, I have found that from 8 years up they only need direction as opposed to physical restraint in order to remain safe. Choice of horse is extremely important. As autistics can appear explosive and make sudden loud noises, an easy going confident horse is a must. Many horses are not suited for this sort of work. It is not just about introducing the child to a horse. It is about being able to allow a relationship and bond to be formed. Autistics see the world as horses do. This is part of working with autistics. An understanding that they do not see the world as we do is important. They see much more detail than our selective vision allows us. I have had wonderful and magical miracles happen when putting horses together with autistics. It can help your niece as well I would think. However, if I were you, I would wait just a few more years to attempt anything significant. If you can let the child be in the company of a calm horse that might work out OK. You should not be too active in this. But rather allow the child and horse to do their thing. This is why an older child is better suited to this sort of experience. Thanks a lot for your interest and question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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