HAT for Autism
My child has Autism.
Why are they having so many
problems at school and home?
Autism is a disorder that effects how the brain processes
the world. There are various levels of autism
from very severe to mildly impairing which is why they call Autism a “spectrum
disorder”. There are children with very
severe Autism that are unable to speak, follow directions, and seem to be
completely in their own world. While a
child with mildly impairing Autism (high functioning) may do really well with
their schoolwork and can speak very well, but have trouble maintaining
friendships. The variation of Autism
symptoms is what makes autism so difficult to treat. This variation also makes it really difficult
for teachers at school or other parents to understand why your child is having
behaviors when other children do not.
School and other social situations require a very specific set of
behaviors of your children. They should
be quiet, patient, sit still, not touch things, and do what is asked of them
immediately after they are asked. This
is a high bar to meet for a typical child let alone a child on the Autism
spectrum. Because children with autism
usually have no other signs of physical disability, people out in public often
think your child is “spoiled” or just needs a good “spanking” to get their
behaviors under control. You know this
isn’t true and so do the providers at Paradise Ranch.
I really want to try Horse Assisted Therapy (HAT),
but is it
Paradise Ranch has an extensive training program for HAT
providers and horses. Paradise Ranch
horses are selected based on their personality, attitude, and desire to work
with children. Our horse handlers and
providers spend years studying horse behavior and natural training
techniques. Our providers understand how
to read the horse’s behaviors and know what the horse is saying to the people
around the horse. Also, providers take
cues from your child’s body language and verbal tones to help your child
understand what the horse is “hearing” from tone and body position of your child. The horses are trained to never kick, bite,
or show any aggression towards humans.
This makes our program one of the safest and most effective horse
programs. Your children can safely
explore the world of horses and physical attributes of the horse such as fluffy
hair, musty smell, watery eyes, warm breath, and hard feet in a controlled way
with the help of a provider that understands how your child learns about the
world around them.
How does HAT help my child with Autism?
HAT uses the relationship between horses and your child to form
a new way of regulating emotions and behaviors for your child. HAT providers place your child in various
activities and therapeutic scenarios with their horse partner to help your
child learn new empathetic patterns and understanding relationships. Providers start by building rapport with your
child during the first few sessions. New
environments, changes in routine, new people and new expectations all create
anxiety in our ASD children. Rapport
building sessions are low expectation sessions where providers basically keep
your child safe, while they learn the boundaries, rules, limits, and
expectations of this new place.
Providers begin the basics of the routine and build on the routine each
session to teach your child new skills and language. With each new session building on the last,
your child knows what to expect each session and begins to learn how to cope
with change in a very controlled way.
Additionally, providers encourage behaviors from your child that are
also expected in public settings.
Sitting still, being patient, waiting their turn, being quiet, not
touching things, and focusing on a task are some examples of these public
expectations. Horses give very honest
feedback to your child, so if your child is showing aggressive body language
and verbal tones, the horse will react with fear and recoil. If your child is shy and meek, the horse will
react with leadership and encourage your child to be more willing and
open. The job of the horse is to help
your child learn the give and take of a productive healthy relationship , how
to be empathetic to another being’s feelings, be honest and open, experience
vulnerability, overcome anxiety and instill self-confidence and self-esteem.
How long does the HAT process take?
Every ASD child is different in their needs, experiences,
and life challenges. HAT providers take
this into consideration when developing the treatment plan for your child and
assess progress every 90 days. Some children
benefit from weekly sessions while children that have been in the program for
several months see continued success through bi-weekly or once a month
sessions. Generally, sessions start
frequently and are more intense and as your child improves in behavior and
attitude, the intensity and frequency slows down. We encourage you to take the program one day
at a time and before you know it, your child will be start showing amazing
progress in their behaviors and relationships.
Does Paradise Ranch take insurance?
Paradise Ranch does currently take fee for service (FFS)
Medicaid for medically necessary treatment.
This includes psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) and family therapy. The process for this treatment is a little
different from HAT and requires annual assessments and a mental health
diagnosis. Talk to your in-take provider
if you think this is an option for your family.
There are a number of other programs available that help
provide funding for HAT. We work closely
with Olive Crest, Desert Regional Center, and Easter Seals. If you need more information or assistance
with applications for these programs, talk to your in-take provider.
How do I start HAT sessions?
Call 702-515-7117 to schedule your evaluation appointment. During this appointment you will fill out all the necessary paperwork and meet your in-take provider. Your provider will give you a full tour of the facility, introduce you to all the horses, and answer any questions you have about the HAT program. Treatment is a team effort, so siblings, service providers, and other family members are welcome at the appointment and are invited to provide feedback during the evaluation appointment. This appointment is when we establish general goals and objectives for your child. Make sure to wear closed toed shoes and pants. No sandals, flip-flops, crocs, etc.