How Does Equine Assisted Therapy Treat ADHD?

Children have ADHD and find it hard to concentrate and maintain composure, so parents often worry about their kids and struggle to handle them. They may have tried various treatments without success.

If that sounds like your situation, you are not alone, and there is hope. Though it can seem like an obstacle to hear that your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s important to focus on therapies and treatment options, such as equine-assisted therapy. In many cases, this treatment helps a child manage their ADHD symptoms better and can be used at home and in school if you have equine simulators like REST by GAIT.

 

The Benefits of Equine Therapy for ADHD

Most children with ADHD find it hard to stay focused or become restless easily. Their minds work differently, and they can get uncomfortable on a whim. While these aren’t necessarily bad things, they can disrupt your everyday lives if you’re a parent. You may get angry because your child isn’t listening, or they may get in trouble at school because they can’t focus on the tasks at hand.

Equine therapy can help with that through various methods. Many parents turn to simulators that give their children a sense of riding a horse. It’s a mechanical machine, but it moves slowly and gently in a rhythmic pattern, similar to a horse.

With that, children can sit on it and become more relaxed and less stressed. Throughout the past, the equine movement has been used by speech therapists, occupational, and physical therapists. Now, it’s designed and being used by mental health practitioners as a treatment option for kids with ADHD.

There is the rhythmic movement of the horse (or simulator). With that, children improve their balance, coordination, mobility, and posture. Ultimately, children with ADHD can experience coordination and balance concerns. That may make them slump over and not sit up straight because they’re agitated or angry. With those rhythmic movements, they become calmer and have to sit up straighter so that they don’t fall over. This requires the child to become focused and confident in their movement. 

Calmness

One issue that children with ADHD have is that they can often get anxious and tend to feel agitated easily. This often happens when they can’t do something they want or don’t know how to do something. They go from being calm and rational to screaming, angry, and possibly hitting others. This is serious, and many parents don’t know what to do.

When they have a horse simulator in the house or in a space easily accessible, you can have the child sit on it when they have to do something they feel uncomfortable and agitated. In effect, you’re allowing them to do something fun and enjoyable, which means they’re more willing to listen and focus on what needs to be done. 

Left and Right Brain

Typically, children need to activate the right and left hemispheres of their brain each day. Those with ADHD may notice that one hemisphere is more dominant than the other. For instance, according to Frontiers in Psychology in an article titled “Brain lateralization and self-reported symptoms of ADHD in a population sample of adults: a dimensional approach“All in all, the information presented above on abnormal brain lateralization in ADHD is inconclusive; albeit most evidence favors right hemisphere dysfunction.” 

On top of that, more emphasis needs to be on the part of the brain that controls activity levels, attention, and impulses. With equine therapy and riding a simulator, those areas are activated all at once to help with ADHD problems.

Equine Assisted Therapy in the House

Equine therapy can provide children with the focus and calm they need. They can sit quietly for longer periods because their bodies are doing something even though at face value they may appear to not be doing much. This also helps them with craft activities, doing homework, or just sitting still and maintaining their composure.

Help For Autism/ADHD

For parents, this can give them peace of mind knowing that their child is able to concentrate better, strengthen their focus, and keep their behavior under better control. They’re not constantly on the watch for a bad moment and can tend to other kids, handle chores, or just have some quiet time.

Using Equine Assisted Therapy at School

Teachers and educators can also take advantage of equine therapy with the use of a simulator. Though you can’t have a horse on the property, unless you’re somewhere in Montana, it is possible to use the simulator to manage children with ADHD.

This is often seen as fun and exciting, so children don’t feel singled out. However, it’s best to use them in special needs classes where everyone has access to their own device.  Alternatively, this can be a treat for kids and can be used as a way to learn social skills and sharing skills. 

Typically, kids using a horse simulator can manage fidgeting, anxiety, and stress much better. They’re calmer, which also increases focus and attention. Plus, you may even notice more productivity and motor skill functionality from children with ADHD who use a simulator.

Equine Therapy

The Issue with Equine Therapy

Many parents and school administrators have long since known about the advantages of equine therapy. However, few practitioners use it in their treatment plans. It’s often hard to buy and care for a horse all the time, and renting one or using a farm as a facility can be problematic.

With that, many practitioners are turning to simulators to give the same effect of riding a horse without all the maintenance and high costs involved.

On top of that, these simulators are becoming more popular and affordable. That means special needs schools and parents can buy them and set them up themselves. Whether equine therapy is prescribed or not, you can use it to treat your child’s ADHD symptoms. 

You may find that they’re more relaxed and calmer throughout the most challenging parts of their day. They can use it while reading, learning, watching television, or eating meals. It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about how long they should use the simulator. For example, you don’t want them to sit on it all day. It should be more of a calming option when things get too rough.

As with everything (electronics and playtime), it should be used in moderation. Still, you’re sure to see a marked improvement that is going to give you hope because you can now control the symptoms and help your child learn and grow to become a functioning member of society.

If you’re interested in purchasing REST by GAIT click here

Conclusion

Parents and educators of ADHD children may find it hard to cope with everyday situations. It’s hard to handle a frustrated child every day, but now there is hope. You can get the benefits of riding a horse without the care and maintenance of a live animal through equine therapy and especially simulators. It allows your child to stay calm and relax, which benefits them in all aspects of their life.

REST: Because it works

It’s time to put REST into your life. And take advantage of all of the benefits equine motion has to offer any time, any place. At Gait, we firmly believe it will be a powerful, rewarding, and effective tool for helping treat your special needs child, children, or adult.

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