The effects of therapeutic horseback riding program on motor skills in children with autism spectrum disorder
Therapeutic horseback riding (THR) as an animal-assisted intervention is one of the innovative approaches emerging in the treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study was designed to investigate the effects of a 12-week, twice a week THR program on motor skills in sixty-eight children with ASD aged 5–10 years old. All participants selected met the DSM-V criteria for ASD, and a total of fifty-three participants completed the study. A randomized controlled trial design was utilized for the study. Data was collected via a pre-THR test, interim-THR test, and post-THR test to investigate the possible changes in motor skills throughout the 12-week THR program. Results showed that the THR program significantly improved overall motor skills across time points (p < 0.05) and sub-skills of run, gallop and two-hand catch (as compared to the control group, p < 0.05). In conclusion, the THR program may be an effective option for improving motor skills in children with ASD and further investigation with a longer period of intervention is warranted.