Helping Autism with horses

ISHPEMING — Friday marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month. We’ll be providing some insight throughout the next few weeks about services that are available for those who have autism.

Heritage Hills Horseback Riding opened about seven years ago, and began giving therapy sessions two years ago. Three and soon to be four employees are certified through the Equine Assisted Guidance and Learning Association model.

“Our sessions require a mental health specialist, an equine specialist, and of course the horses,” said Heritage Hills Horseback Riding Owner Joni Gleason, “sometimes we’ll use one, sometimes we’ll use a couple. We have a wide range of horses that we use.”

Sometimes mini donkeys are use as well for individuals that might be intimidated by the horses. Horses have been used for a variety of therapeutic reasons, and are significantly effective for many people with autism.

“Horse are very sensitive to emotions and feelings of a person. They basically can mirror a person and help them maybe balance an issue out. Just being around them, working around them, it is known to calm people, especially autism from what I understand, it’s the calming of the atmosphere. There’s not a ton of noises coming at these people that are sensitive to those type of outside interactions. So it can kind of level them out.”

To learn more about Heritage Hills Horseback Riding and the positive impact it can have for individuals with autism, click here.

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About the Author

Caleb Scanlon
Caleb M. Scanlon is a reporter for ABC 10 / CW 5 and joined the news team in 2015. He grew up in Negaunee, where he attended Negaunee High School. Caleb completed his Bachelor's degree in Media Production and New Technologies from Northern Michigan University with a minor in Communication Studies. Caleb interned with ABC 10 / CW 5 in the fall of 2014. During his free time, Caleb enjoys spending time with his wife Samantha, his kids Fred and Lucy, and his cats Scotty, Remus, and Fitzgerald. Caleb plays a multitude of musical instruments and performs in a band called Concord Through Keys. When there isn't snow on the ground, Caleb can often be found at Al-Quaal playing disc golf.