Equine-Assisted Occupational Therapy: Increasing Engagement for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Am J Occup Ther. 2016 Nov/Dec;70(6):7006220040p1-7006220040p9. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2016.020701.


Engagement in meaningful activities is essential to development and is often reduced in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have limited engagement in activities or relationships. A multiple-baseline design was used with 7 children with ASD ages 4-8 yr to assess the effect of including a horse in occupational therapy intervention on task engagement. The children showed improvements in engagement. Including horses in occupational therapy sessions may be a valuable addition to conventional treatments to increase task engagement of children with ASD. Factors related to the environment, therapeutic strategies, and individual participation need to be considered in understanding why this intervention may be effective and developing a theoretical basis for implementation.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02714101.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environment
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02714101