One organization I learned about was O.A.T.S. (Offering Alternative Therapy with Smiles) thanks to Oakland University’s annual OUCares Family Fun Day. I visited their booth at OUCares and talked to a representative about their program.
O.A.T.S. Clarkston is a 501(c) non profit that uses horseback riding as a means for therapy for all special needs riders. The program started in 1997 and their instructor’s mission is to get every rider to a point where they can ride independently. All of their instructors are certified. By interacting with and learning about horses, riders learn: balance, flexibility, communication skills, social interaction and self-esteem. O.A.T.S. representatives told me that caregivers, parents and doctors are often surprised at the dramatic improvements riders receive from their program!
O.A.T.S. makes sense for any special needs affliction but I immediately notice the possible benefits it would have on an ASD idividual. I learned from my child’s Occupational Therapy that ASD children crave bouncing or “crashing” movements to help stimulate their need for better spatial relations. It seems the natural movements of horseback riding would definitely provide this! I also learned from the PAWS reading program that ASD children often find ways to develop their social skills with animals first and O.A.T.S. representatives told me that ASD children often bond with horses immediately.
To find out more about O.A.T.S., visit their website ( http://www.oatshrh.org/ ) or, better yet, visit them in person at their farm in Clarkston.
3090 Weidemann Dr
Clarkston, Michigan 48348