2017 Master thesis: Therapy with horses for a child with an autism spectrum disorder, a case study.

Abstract: Objective: This study aims to analyze the behavioral changes in a girl who is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during an intervention called the Horse Boy Method. Method: One girl (eight years old) with ASD participated in this study. During five weeks she received the Horse Boy Method therapy on a weekly basis. The Scale for Emotional Development (SEO-R) and the Strength and Diffulcuties Questionaire (SDQ) were conducted before and after the intervention to establish overall changes in her social and emotional development.

Her behavior was filmed and a codebook was used to measure behavioral changes in specific areas of functioning during the five intervention sessions. Results: During five weeks of Horse Boy Method therapy, the participant showed an increase in verbal interaction skills, turn taking, and emotion regulation skills. Furthermore, a decrease of separation anxiety was observed. With regard to non-verbal behavior and sensory distress a variable pattern was observed. Discussion: This case study measured an overall positive effect of the intervention on this girl’s behavior. Horse Boy Method therapy may therefore be a promising intervention in helping children with ASD and their families. Further research, with a larger sample or by means of several case studies, is needed to increase the validity and generalization of this study.

To download the report click here. This version is in Dutch an English translation will be made available in the near future. 

By: Merel Marie-Paule Heineman (MSc.)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Faculteit Gedrag- en Maatschappijwetenschappen
Basiseenheid Orthopedagogiek
Masterthesis – Juni 2017


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