Unique Program Uses Horses, iPads to Help Kids Communicate

New York's Ithaca College is using a unique therapeutic approach to help non-verbal children with autism. Strides is an 8-week intensive program developed by the school along with Southern Tier Alternative Therapies Inc. (STAT) that combines horeseback riding with iPads equipped with speech-generating applications.

Ithaca College's Tina Caswell is in charge of the team of graduate students conducting the Strides sessions. Caswell says the program has brought out a lot of firsts for the children. “It’s the first time the children have been on horseback, the first time many of them are using iPads with speech software, and more important, the first time they’ve had any kind of access to self-expression. Parents also tell me it’s the first time they’ve been able to have a two-way conversation with their kids. It’s wonderful when the children can express basic wants, but what we’re seeing through this therapy goes beyond that. Children are doing more than requesting food and toys. For the first time, they are telling narratives and sharing feelings.”

Watch the video below produced by Ithaca College to see the program in action.