Manualized Equine-Assisted Therapy Protocol for Clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Keywords:autism spectrum disorder (ASD), equine-assisted learning (EAL), equine-assisted therapy (EAT), evidenced-based protocol, recreational therapy (RT)
Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is an increasingly popular intervention for people with various disabilities and diagnoses. However, a lack of evidence-based protocols has hampered efforts to provide standardization of treatment. The Galloping Towards Success (GTS) protocol was designed specifically for clients with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is described in this paper. The 15-week manualized EAT protocol was previously tested across multiple sites in Serbia and the U.S. (Dawson et al., 2022) demonstrating the protocol’s preliminary effectiveness in increasing social skills in 9 out of 10 individuals with moderate to severe ASD. This manuscript aims to provide professionals with information regarding the GTS 15-week protocol, including an introductory overview, description of participants, assessment, planning weekly intervention activities, evaluation procedures, documentation, limitations, and author comments. This protocol will help create consistency in facilitation among Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS ) who use equine-assisted therapy to treat adolescents and young adults with moderate to severe ASD while equipping researchers with the means to conduct future evidence-based research in the area of equine-assisted therapies.
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