That is a nice story! My nephew is profoundly autistic and sounds much like the child in the story.....horrible, self damaging tantrums. He did participate in a TR program and loved it. It did seem to settle him down for a while after his rides. Unfortunately, it was cut from his school's budget.
What a wonderful story. I am involved in supporting www.giantstepsriding.org, this organization does just this type of thing for children. Friends of ours have a severely autistic son, when AJ was 6 years old his doctors said "he will never walk or talk".
After 6 weeks of riding with Giant Steps, AJ not only walked and talked, he got in trouble at school for running around during class time and yelling and laughing out loud. It is nothing short of a miracle that this little boy has progressed since then to be a very functioning child. He is a little darling. Check out Giant Steps, they are a very very worthy charity.
They have proven time after time that horses can heal in wonderful ways. But then you all already know the wonderful healing power of horses.
Many years ago, when I was between jobs, I volunteered with a local NHRA program.
Just over the course of one Summer I saw kids go from totally unresponsive, being draped over the backs of the horses to sitting upright and interacting with the sidewalkers.
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon: Steppin' Out 1988-2004 Hey Vern! 1982-2009 Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Rupert Isaacson, author and producer of Sundance Film Festival Official Selection, comes to Orinda
Come and see and hear a father's incredible story about his quest to heal his autistic son as told in the book The Horse Boy & the film Over the Hills and Far Away.
Location: Orinda Community Center Auditorium, 28 Orinda Way, Orinda, CA
Date: Sunday, April 19
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Donation suggested $5 per person.
All proceeds will go to a new covered arena for Xenophon!
(a wonderful therapeutic riding center, I've volunteered there for several years, and I'm so excited about the improvements/expansions that this fundraiser will benefit)
Yes, it starts with the bond between horses and Rowan (the autistic son), but the journey is about the 'alternative' healing power of Shamans.
Why Mongolia? Well it's to do with the Shamans (healers). Rupert is as someone said 'atypical' and had previously on his travels had experience of Shamans on the African continent. What he saw and learnt there was enough to give Rowan the name of one of those Shamans as his middle name, so the belief was evidently strong. The Shamans of the Reindeer People in Mongolia/Siberia were reputed to be the best and only reachable via horseback - and the book seems to back up the power of these Shamans.
I have a profoundly autistic cousin who did follow the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) programme here in the UK - he loves horses, but sadly since he reached adult size (he's now 35, so a while ago) the RDA couldn't cope with his level of autism (most adults are able to ride successfully with the RDA). You can't help but wonder how different things could have been for him (he's in full time care and on full time 'calming' medication) if our family had been a little more 'atypical' in approach... But that's the 'danger' of this book/story, it could give so much false hope to so many desperate people. On the other hand, there are very, very few people who having read the book would feel brave enough to embark on this journey.
I hope the Isaacson's do continue to see improvement in their son and the healing continues, I'm sure even if other autistic kids do not go down the Shaman route, they might try equine therapy - and that, I think, can only be a good thing.
My mom is in CA (I'm half american) visiting her mom at the moment. I will suggest that they go tomorrow to this.
I know first hand the miracles (and yes, they really are miracles) that can happen when a child with special needs partners with the just the right horse and the right program. It has changed our lives. So much so that we are starting a program here at our farm to partner with the Stable where we volunteer.
Just to put it into short bites...
In one year I have gone from planning for group housing to planning for college and a career for DD. Her academics, while always very strong, are beyond what I ever planned for. She was schedule to graduate from HS early, now she will graduate next year at 16. She is valued team member at the Stable, and she has friends she adores. She has become "normal" but better
I have seen children take their first unassisted steps.
children who could not or would not speak...sometimes have much to say
The joy they have when they are in the barn is like no other joy you can see.
some children who could not right without support, now ride all by themselves
BUT (and there always is one isn't there?) Like doodlebug1 says, while there is much hope, there is a danger in believing that a child can be "cured" by alternative methods, or any method really. So much depends on the child, their environment, support, their community options.
I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques
Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.
equineartworks, that is wonderful. I have been a volunteer in TR and Hippotherapy for twelve years and I have seen some amazing things in that time. If I ever win Megabucks, my dream is to enlarge my farm so women and children who have been abused can come here to heal with horses. I saw firsthand how my horses reacted to my sister who came to stay with me when her abusive husband forced her, her children and their puppy out of their home. My horses knew she was broken inside.
My sister, who was never into horses, would sit on a hay bale and we would talk while I did barn chores. Shortly before she died, she told me, "I get it now. I understand why the horses mean so much to you. Even sitting here with you, with the horses, I feel comfort." I wish that comfort had carried her through, but it is nice to know that being here on the farm, brushing the horses, getting into the routine and rhythm of a farm-centered life soothed her soul for a little while before she left this earth.
I believe that horses are natural healers of the soul.
Thank you for the explanation.
That seemed an odd destination, with a kid with problems.
Good that he found what he was looking for.
I chatted with Rupert when screening his movie at Sundance in January (he's a long time foxhunter and we have mutual friends). He told me he first met a few shamen while touring in his quest to get the hunting lands and rights of African bushmen restored via the UN and fundraising tours in the US. As I recall, one of the bushmen went foxhunting with him at Orange County a few years ago.
I read the book. While heartwarming, interesting and engaging, I'll be the stick in the mud who admits I had some pretty big reservations regarding the lack of safety measures taken, which he addresses lightly. In the picture section of the book is also a picture of some kids in the org he started for theraputic riding for kids with challenges. Three or four all sitting on the same horse bareback with no helmets.
Please don't think I don't understand. As the Aunt of a boy with autism and CP, I understand quite a bit. I just had some toe curling moments over some glaring safety things in the book and the way they were touched on by the author but seemingly brushed away as not applicable to his situation.
My nephew who started out with HUGE sensory issues now seems to absolutely love horses. Once he's up on one, he doesn't want to get down. He just lights up from the inside. I am trying my hardest to find a great place for him to go get some horse therapy where safety is a number one concern.
I will say that the author is a great story teller, and the lengths he has gone to for his son are beyond indicative of the love he has for Rowan. It was a good read.
Maybe those kids are awful about stuff on their heads, we don't know. My sweet nephew is somewhere on the autism spectrum, and for now he lights up like a Christmas tree if I set him on my Maggie mare in front of me, bareback, neither of us in a helmet. I don't think he'd have let us put a helmet on him first, honestly. the meltdown would have been epic. Instead we went with she's rock solid and I'm a good rider and we had my SO lead us, too- and he LOVED it. I wish they lived closer so he could have more more more Maggie time.