Objective: To investigate if therapeutic horseback riding (THR) can improve language and cognitive function in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (ID).
Methods: We conducted a prospective case-control study on children diagnosed with ASD or ID. Eighteen and 11 children were enrolled for THR and control groups, respectively. For 8 weeks, those in the THR group underwent conventional therapy plus 30 minutes of THR per week while controls only received conventional therapy. Participants' language (using Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary Test [REVT] and Preschool Receptive-Expressive Language Scale [PRES]) and cognitive abilities (using Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children [K-ABC] and the cognitive domain of Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II [BSID-II]) were assessed at baseline and at 8 weeks after treatment.
Results: There was no baseline difference between the two groups. In the THR group, there were statistically significant improvements in most domains after THR including receptive and expressive language and cognition compared to those before THR. In the control group, however, only receptive vocabulary ability assessed by REVT and cognitive function assessed by BSID-II showed improvements after conventional therapy. However, there were no statistically significant differences in language or cognitive abilities between the two groups at 8 weeks after treatment.
Conclusion: These results suggest that THR might improve language and cognitive abilities. Although the mechanisms and pathways involved in such improvements are currently unclear based on our findings, THR might have potential to optimize language and cognitive abilities of children with ASD and ID.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Cognition; Intellectual disability; Language; Therapeutic horseback riding.
Conflict of interest statement
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.
Randomized Controlled Trial of Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum DisorderRL Gabriels et al. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 54 (7), 541-9. PMID 26088658. - Randomized Controlled TrialThis is the first large-scale, randomized, controlled trial demonstrating efficacy of THR for the ASD population, and findings are consistent with previous equine-assiste …
Long-Term Effect of Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized TrialRL Gabriels et al. Front Vet Sci 5, 156. PMID 30062099.Trial of Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder; http://clinicaltrials.gov; NCT02301195.
Replication Pilot Trial of Therapeutic Horseback Riding and Cortisol Collection With Children on the Autism SpectrumZ Pan et al. Front Vet Sci 5, 312. PMID 30693284.We aimed to determine whether results of our prior randomized control trial [RCT; NCT02301195, (1)] of Therapeutic Horseback Riding (THR) for children and adolescents wit …
Language and Motor Skills in Siblings of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-Analytic ReviewD Garrido et al. Autism Res 10 (11), 1737-1750. PMID 28685955. - ReviewWe reviewed studies reporting linguistic and/or motor skills in siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to those in siblings of children with ty …
Efficacy of Applied Behavioral Intervention in Preschool Children With Autism for Improving Cognitive, Language, and Adaptive Behavior: A Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisM Spreckley et al. J Pediatr 154 (3), 338-44. PMID 18950798. - ReviewCurrently there is inadequate evidence that ABI has better outcomes than standard care for children with autism. Appropriately powered clinical trials with broader outcom …
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