I manage an autism provision, linked to a mainstream school. We have a small number of children within our provision, all of whom have a varying academic ability but all significantly affected by their autism. We were thrilled to get the opportunity to bring 7 of the children for a block of equine therapy. Due to the 3rd lockdown, we have not yet been able to complete our sessions. However, the benefits that have already been observed after just 3 sessions is phenomenal and we can’t wait to get back to finish them. Our children can often struggle with social interactions. This can include finding it difficult to communicate effectively with their peers, to work collaboratively, to share and to express themselves and can find new experiences outside of their normal routine, quite overwhelming. They can often also find it difficult to achieve things independently of their familiar adults. The equine therapy sessions so far have been utterly amazing in addressing these challenges. The children did not know what to expect, and most were nervous about being around horses. They were also anxious as for most of them, they had not been on our school minibus before or been on a trip with us and so it was a big challenge, away from their normal routine. We prepared them for this by showing them photos of the horses beforehand and providing reassurance. From the moment we got there, it could not have gone better. Suzanne and Denise instantly made the children feel relaxed and at ease. By the end of the first session, by using their extensive knowledge, experience and expertise, alongside the wonderful horses, they had worked miracles! They had been able to support the children in completing things successfully that they normally can struggle with. They enabled the children to talk about how they felt both before and after the session, they had enabled them to work collaboratively to build the horses a shelter - having to plan and work together, and had enabled the children to talk actively and with enthusiasm about what they had done. I can’t stress enough how impressed we were with their collaborative working and how much they could recount when we got back. Above all – they had done all of this without us! Despite never having met the children before, Suzanne and Denise were able to support them in completing activities, getting them to talk, to be independent, to engage, to succeed - and all without the normal support that they are used to. As each session has gone on, the children’s ability to work together co-operatively, to discuss and to recount what they have done (always with enthusiasm), to do things independently of us and to be able to talk honestly about their feelings, has grown impressively. These are not skills which always come easily and we have been so proud and thrilled to watch their progress. Long may it continue, it’s invaluable! Thank you so much- the difference this is making is immeasurable. H Dunnigan Arnold Academy, January 2021
A member of staff could see the confidence improving with the whole group.
I am more confident.
It was fun, it made me happy
I don't want it to end. I love horses x
Thank you, I have learnt about peoples spaces
It made me feel more confident