HAT for Down Syndrome
My child has Down Syndrome and it seems to affect their
performance at school?
Down Syndrome is a unique mental health disorder in that it
is caused by a physiological abnormality caused by a genetic disorder. There is an extra full or partial copy of
chromosome 21 during fetal formation that causes Down Syndrome. This syndrome can result in a lifelong
intellectual disability and developmental delays. Commonly, learning disorders and other
medical issues can result including heart and gastrointestinal problems. Unlike autism, children with Down Syndrome
are socially oriented and require a different method of intervention to change
behaviors and encourage success. Even
though children with Down Syndrome may have limitations in their ability to
communicate, they enjoy social interactions and social attention. This is why sometimes a child with Down
Syndrome may get into trouble for the sake of receiving attention from peers or
authority figures. Negative attention
seeking behavior is a common complaint of parents of a child with Down
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 Down Syndrome?
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 can
create anxiety in our 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 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,