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This graph shows preliminary data for trotting in small circles in the counter-clockwise vs. clockwise direction for six participants with autism show a significant difference in balance in the two directions of travel, while the children who have not been diagnosed with autism function about the same in either direction. When trotting CW, the riders with autism also show more negative verbal and non-verbal expressions. After one session, all of our riders are now balanced and happy in both directions. Our medical advisory board is of the opinion that this exercise builds synapses (brain circuits) in the left hemisphere of the brain (the area most affected by autism) and it is helping to reverse autism.

The figure above shows preliminary results on reversing under-connectivity by having the rider weave through cones with abrupt right and left turns. These reversals require the brain to quickly switch from the right to the left hemisphere, controlling the left hand, then the right. Before the twelve week semester, our riders with autism exhibited a delay of three to five seconds before engaging the opposite hand. After twelve sessions, the delay had disappeared. Our medical advisory board is of the opinion that through this exercise, we are reversing autism by reducing under-connectivity.

Latest Research Through MRI Analysis

•Carnegie Mellon University (US) study shows that lack of efficient pathways for transmitting information between certain brain regions are to blame in "Theory of Mind" deficiencies. (Journal of Social Neuroscience)

•Animated interventions create improvement in "Theory of Mind" deficits.

•Carnegie Mellon University (US)  (Cerebral Cortex, April 2007) determined that in the autistic brain.

•There was a lack of functional connectivity and synchronization (which we observed in our cones exercise).

•Relevant parts of the corpus callosum that affect communication within the brain were smaller.

•The size of the genu of the corpus callosum was correlated with frontal-parietal connectivity.

•The Neuroimaging Laboratory (Italy) performed MRI imaging that showed that integrative activities that incorporate movement, sight, touch, or sound are often more effective than training or therapy directed to one modality at a time.

•A National Institute of Mental Health and University of California (US) study shows that the fear center of the autistic brain (amygdala) is eventually much smaller than that of a typical brain, and the cells are smaller and more densely packed.

•Temple Grandin’s "Hug Machine" ("Thinking in Pictures") maintained that deep pressure on the torso settles over-stimulated brain regions and leads to regulation in the autistic brain.

•Sastra University (India) found that the dendrites (nerve cell connectors) in the autistic brain had fewer branches.

Following this study, we have developed even more methods for intervening with autism. VU University, Amsterdam sent two representatives who have studied our methods for four months, and their preliminary findings are rated "Excellent". The university will produce a report to be published in European Union medical journals on our latest work with children with autism. We are receiving worldwide attention in our very progressive award-winning program.

Matthew, one of our riders diagnosed with autism, has been participating at SpiritHorse for 4 years. He celebrates his 16th birthday this month; however he and his family have much more to celebrate. As the result of the intervention at SpiritHorse, Matthew has improved to the extent that he is now considered "non-autistic"!!!!  We are changing lives.

This is half way to the "non-autistic" rating of 29.5! We have plans to have these participants rated at twelve months and at twenty-four months and expect many in this group as well as our other 140 children with autism to reach the "non-autistic" rating of 29.5. The results of this study have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Alternative Therapy in Health and Medicine.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, along with the Autism Treatment Center Research Department, the University of Texas at Dallas Department of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Texas Woman’s University Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the University of North Texas Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work, and Addiction, and the Liberty University Department of Counseling, have just completed a two year study of our work with children with autism. The results were rated as "Significant", which is a very high statistical rating. Figure below shows the rating on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale. The rating of the 35 participants in this study was in the severe/moderate range prior to treatment (38). The rating at the end of six months intervention at SpiritHorse is now in the moderate/mild range (33), a 58% improvement!

Interventions We have Developed to Reverse Autism Based on this Research:

•Build more and stronger neuro-pathways to counter-act the lack of connectivity

•Design methods to restart the development of the left brain hemisphere and its connections which are the most affected by autism. Children with autism prefer to turn left on a horse because they can use their most developed brain hemisphere (right brain) to accomplish this. Need to restart the development of the left brain with right turns

If you would like to make a donation to our therapy program, please click here.

It’s about so much more than riding a horse!

Children with Autism