Effects of Equine-Assisted Therapy on Gross Motor Skills of Two Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Single-Subject Research Study


  • Brent Lindsay Hawkins Clemson University
  • Joseph B Ryan Clemson University
  • A Lynne Cory Clemson University
  • Meredith C Donaldson Clemson University


Autism Spectrum Disorder, equine-assisted therapy, gross motor skills, single-subject research, evidence-based practice


Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder demonstrate deficits in gross motor skills, which hinder their ability to engage in athletic and other play activities.  This further inhibits their opportunities to engage in physical activity, live healthy lifestyles, and develop age appropriate social skills; all primary foci of recreational therapy services.  One intervention that has gained popularity in recent years for treating individuals with ASD is equine-assisted therapy.  This study examined the effects of equine therapy on the gross motor skills of two children with ASD.  Results showed moderate to large gains in body coordination, strength and agility, and overall gross motor skills as a result of participation in an equine-assisted therapy intervention.  Implications for recreational therapists providing equine-based interventions are discussed.

Author Biographies

Brent Lindsay Hawkins, Clemson University

Assistant Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University

Joseph B Ryan, Clemson University

Associate Director of Research for the School of Education at Clemson University

A Lynne Cory, Clemson University

Lecturer in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University

Meredith C Donaldson, Clemson University

Lesson plan coordinator and PATH certified instructor at the Clemson University Equine Center





Research Papers