An area occupational therapist, who works with kids, is taking her patients away from the office and out on the ranch, and she’s having some amazing results.
Jacob McDowell has autism. So once a week he meets with his occupational therapist, Amy Albertson, at the Thurlo Ranch in Conway.
Jacob was non-verbal just three months ago, and Albertson thinks the recent results stem from his time on the horse.
“I see the biggest results here. Because the kids interact with horses they get that social feedback, they learn empathy of caring and responsibility for caring for something,” said Albertson. “And then also, a lot of my kids need sensory input to help self regulate, whether they’re under aroused and they have a hard time staying alert enough to take in and learn, or if they’re over-aroused and they’re constantly running around and bouncing and seeking lots of input the horse does both.”
Jacob’s mom Stacy Paterchak has seen him go from a walk, to a trot, to a full on gallup.
“His confidence has boosted tremendously. His focus, concentration, responsibility,” said Paterchak. “His posture is amazing. He does everything sitting up, tall, straight, his core has strengthened from riding the horse. The sensory input from the horses, it relaxes him, to the point where it almost looks like he’s falling asleep on the horse. She makes him vocalize something, it can be a giggle, a snort, it can be anything, to make the horse, to say go. And as soon as he gets the vocalization out, they’ll go, but she’s tough, and she will not let that horse go until he does something.”
“So when the horses start trotting, most of the kids I call it ‘the giggle maker’ because they always start giggling,” said Albertson, “it makes them feel happy with they trot. And so it’s just awesome to see the kids giggling and the parents start giggling, and the horses really learn to enjoy their jobs.”
Albertson works with more than just children with autism. In fact, Myrtle Beach Therapeutic Riding and Vaulting Club is hosting a family fun day and open house Saturday, February 16th at the Thurlo Ranch in Conway. It’s free to attend.