Addressing Academic Subjects: 30 Year Old Female With Autism

7 Bales Of Hay = 7 Continents

Rosemary (name changed) is a 30-year-old female adult with Autism. She has a few words and does understand instruction. She attends Day Services at our facility, 5 days a week. She has a one to one carer and her own apartment. She is very sensitive to sound and does have behaviours that challenge. She displays aggression to herself when she gets frustrated and very occasionally to others. She is physically strong and likes to keep moving.

Rosemary’s parents live locally and have an interest in horse racing and are involved in a syndicate race horse. Rosemary now works in a local race horse trainers yard mucking out for an hour and gets paid.

Rosemary participates in Equine Therapy sessions twice weekly doing stable duties. We follow a PECs system, six objects of reference. This helps, as she knows exactly what is coming next and she likes to keep moving. One of her favourite jobs is cleaning the automatic waterers with a sponge and bucket. When she looks at the board she takes off her jacket and rolls up her sleeves and then always splashes me with water, which I am certain she does on purpose! I explain at the beginning, what we will be doing in the session, by showing her the schedule. We always end on doing something with the horse.

Rosemary fulfilled her goal of climbing Carrauntoohil, the largest mountain in Ireland 2 years ago. From this we discovered she likes maps.


Learn something new involving maps (Geography).
Do something fun and active, that will benefit others who visit our center


Paint and bring to life old bales that were already placed along a walk way around the Farm.

7 bales = 7 Continents.

There were 7 old bales of haylage, that I thought needed a bit of life and could be used for something. I like Geography and know several children who follow different soccer teams and other children who know different flags. So I thought it would be a great idea to paint on top of the bales the different Continents. This would be a great teaching tool and Rosemary enjoys painting and I like to vary her jobs weekly.

I actually learnt something new, something I should have known, that Rosemary can write! It took a few sessions to paint the bales green and blue. Team work both Rosemary and I did it. Green for the top of the bales (land) and blue for the outside (sea) and then Rosemary painted in white the Continents on top of the bales. I spelt out Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia. So I always say we are going around the world when we pass the bales. Everyone has something to say about different countries; where they have been on holiday, where relatives live, what animals live there, capital cities, largest rivers, largest mountains, recent news etc. The learning is endless from such a simple academic tool. I have been told I was wrong about some information I gave a child…..and they were right and I was wrong!!! Polar bears DO NOT live in the Antarctica! I thought Mexico was in South America, well it is Central America but it’s actually North America. So a great tool to re-educate!!! Enough of me giving away when I didn’t listen in class!
Rosemary enjoyed the painting and fulfilling a task and being active. Rosemary enjoys some routine but a bit of variety. I can tell from the smile on her face. I give her lots of encouragement and praise and she loves the one on one attention. We will continue to do different ideas and tasks around the Farm to help other children and adults with learning in a fun way, without them even knowing they are learning. She learnt new words and repeated them back to me when I asked her to say them. The indoor arena now has Flags hanging from the ceiling, as continued learning.


Over the past 4 years Rosemary has been completing an equine therapy course with a Horse Boy Practitioner. During this time Rosemary has really developed her skills around stable management and also developing a trusting relationship with Horse’s. Rosemary truly enjoys participating in the course and in the unlikely event Rosemary cannot attend, she is very fast to point out that she is missing it. Throughout this time Rosemary has learned the true challenges of working in a stable yard, but yet such is her love of the course Rosemary has begun working with a well-known local horse trainer for 1 hour per week. This alone highlights the impressive tutelage received by Cat. Going forward it is hoped that Rosemary can continue to grow her appreciation and understanding of working with horses.


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