In Summer 2014, ABC of NC began a partnership with Riverwood Therapeutic Riding Center to bring equine and farm-based learning to participants in ABC of NC’s Summer Education Program. Research demonstrates that children and adults with autism interacting with and riding horses in a therapeutic setting can lead to “improved interests, self-efficacy and motivation to engage in new activities.”
Spring 2015 brought a continuation and expansion of this program through a generous grant from Autism Speaks. Program elements include:
– Trainings for Riverwood staff and volunteers around an appropriate use of evidence-based behavioral interventions in the realm of therapeutic riding and experiential learning.
– Expanded opportunities for farm based learning for children enrolled in ABC of NC’s summer education program and for select classes during the traditional academic year.
– A “horse call” from Riverwood’s mobile outreach trailer and miniature horses, Candy and Midnight, that enabled us to bring the magic of the farm to some of our youngest summer program participants.
“The training with ABC empowered our instructors and staff with knowledge that is applicable to students with autism across our program reach, “said Laura Pallavicini, Riverwood, program director and instructor.”Having this new knowledge and understanding has allowed our staff to interact with parents on a more educated level, speak to the public about a more integrated approach, and strengthen our commitment and interactions with all of our students with special needs.”
One of ABC of NC’s core values is to encourage and promote cooperative relationships among schools, agencies, organizations, and other professionals involved in the lives of people with autism spectrum disorders. “The collaboration with Riverwood is an excellent example of this (value) in action,” said Kristen Carter-Jackson, summer program director at ABC of NC. “It has resulted in strengthened ties between the two organizations and a commitment to sharing knowledge, skills and expertise to more effectively serve the children with autism with whom we both work.”