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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 256; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030256

Therapeutic Horseback Riding Crossover Effects of Attachment Behaviors with Family Pets in a Sample of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

1
Children’s Hospital Colorado, 13123 E. 16th Ave, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
2
Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, 13001 E. 17th Place, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 20 January 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 3 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Interventions and Activites for Health and Wellbeing)
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Abstract

The unique needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have implications for animal welfare. This nested pilot study examined the effects of a randomized trial of 10-week therapeutic horseback riding (THR) intervention versus a no-horse barn activity (BA) control group on children’s behaviors with family pets. Sixty-seven (THR n = 31; BA n = 36) participants with ASD (ages 6–16 years) with one or more family pet, were enrolled from a larger trial (n = 116) following their randomization to intervention groups, stratified by nonverbal intellectual ability. A consistent caregiver completed questionnaires about participants’ interactions with their household pets pre- and post-intervention. Caregivers of THR group participants reported significant improvements in participants’ caring actions with the family pet compared with the BA group (p = 0.013; effect size = 0.74). Engaging with horses during a standard THR intervention protocol may generalize to improving caring actions toward family pets in children and adolescents with ASD. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism spectrum disorders; therapeutic horseback riding; pet relationships; human-animal interactions; animal assisted interventions autism spectrum disorders; therapeutic horseback riding; pet relationships; human-animal interactions; animal assisted interventions
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Petty, J.D.; Pan, Z.; Dechant, B.; Gabriels, R.L. Therapeutic Horseback Riding Crossover Effects of Attachment Behaviors with Family Pets in a Sample of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 256.

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