Selasa, 26 Januari 2010

Kuda membantu autis

Kuda membantu autis
Dad: Horse Riding Helped His Son With Autism
Some Experts Wary of False Hope of Autism Cure, Others Encourage Exploration
April 17, 2009

Rupert Isaacson believes in the healing power of horses.
Rupert Isaacson says that his autistic son Rowan found healing power in the horses he rode during a family trip to Mongolia two years ago.
Rupert Isaacson says that his autistic son Rowan found healing power in the horses he rode during a family trip to Mongolia two years ago.

It was a horse named Betsy, after all, that Isaacson credits with helping to heal his son Rowan, who was diagnosed with autism just after his second birthday in 2004. The toddler's uncommunicative, tantrum-ridden state devastated his concerned parents.

"Rowan would have as many as 12 tantrums a day," Isaacson, 42, told ABCNews.com. "Everyone knows what a regular toddler tantrum is, but add a deep distress where the child is just inconsolable and unable to communicate the pain that they're in."

"All you can do is try to hold them and stop them from hurting themselves," Isaacson said of he and his wife Kristin's consistent attempts to soothe their son. "When you see your child suffering like that it tears you to pieces."

Isaacson said that he quickly learned that Rowan, who is now 7 years old, would calm down if he was allowed to roam and explore the woods outside the family's home in Elgin, Texas, just outside of Austin.

"One day Rowan went where I wasn't expecting him to go and before I could grab him he was in my neighbor's pasture, right next to a group of horses that happened to be grazing right there," remembers Isaacson. "Rowan dived right under the horse -- every parent's worst nightmare."
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While Isaacson said he expected his small son to be trampled by the horse, what came next was life-changing.

"The old boss mare -- who we'd later learn was named Betsy -- walked over and pushed the other horses off," said Isaacson. "Betsy dropped her head and started making a chewing sound that horse lovers know as a sign of acceptance."

"I've never seen a horse offer that to a babbling two-and-a-half-year-old," he said. "Rowan and Betsy obviously had some sort of connection."

It was that connection that Isaacson would later discover held the key to his son's happiness. Isaacson, a horse trainer for most of his adult life, began horseback riding with Rowan, finding that the rocking rhythm of the animal's stride soothed his son. Throughout his horseback riding, Rowan continued with more orthodox therapies, including applied behavioral analysis, one of the most commonly used therapies for kids with autism.

"Whenever he was on a horse he wouldn't tantrum," said Isaacson. "When I put him on Betsy that would be the only time his tantrums would stop, any other situation and he could turn at any point. We wanted to keep him on a horse as long as possible."

In the summer of 2007 when the boy was 5, Isaacson and his family went on a horseback trip in Mongolia, spending four weeks where Rowan was happiest: on the back of a horse.

"Before we went to Mongolia, Rowan was incontinent and subject to neurological fits and tantrums and was cut off from his peers," said Isaacson. "We came back with a child that was toilet trained and no longer having tantrums. He made his first friend on that trip, too."

It was the most extraordinary thing," he said.


Thinking the Way Animals Do
By Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Department of Animal Science
Colorado State University
Western Horseman, Nov. 1997, pp.140-145

Temple Grandin is an assistant professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She is the author of the book Thinking in Pictures. Television appearances include 20/20, CBS This Morning, and 48 Hours. Dr. Grandin has autism, and her experiences have helped her to understand animal behavior. She teaches a course in livestock handling at the university and consults on the design of livestock handling facilities.

Unique insights from a person with a singular understanding.

As a person with autism, it is easy for me to understand how animals think because my thinking processes are like an animal's. Autism is a neurological disorder that some people are born with. Scientists who study autism believe that the disorder is cause d by immature development of certain brain circuits, and over development of other brain circuits. Autism is a complex disorder that ranges in severity from a mild form (such as mine), to a very serious handicap where the child never learns to talk. The m

I have no language-based thoughts at all. My thoughts are in pictures, like videotapes in my mind. When I recall something from my memory, I see only pictures. I used to think that everybody thought this way until I started talking to people on how they t hought. I learned that there is a whole continuum of thinking styles, from totally visual thinkers like me, to the totally verbal thinkers. Artists, engineers, and good animal trainers are often highly visual thinkers, and accountants, bankers, and people

Most people use a combination of both verbal and visual skills. Several years ago I devised a little test to find out what style of thinking people use: Access your memory on church steeples. Most people will see a picture in their mind of a generic "gene ralized" steeple. I only see specific steeples; there is no generalized one. Images of steeples flash through my mind like clicking quickly through a series of slides or pictures on a computer screen. On the other hand, highly verbal thinkers may "see" th

A radio station person I talked to once said that she had no pictures at all in her mind. She thought in emotions and words. I have observed that highly verbal people in abstract professions, such as in trading stocks or in sales, often have difficulty un derstanding animals. Since they only think in words, it is difficult for them to imagine that an animal can think. I have found that really good animal trainers will see more detailed steeple pictures. It is clear to me that visual thinking skills are ess
Associative Thinking
A horse trainer once said to me, "Animals don't think, they just make associations." I responded to that by saying, "If making associations is not thinking, then I would have to conclude that I do not think." People with autism and animals both think by making visual associations. These associations are like snapshots of events and tend to be very specific. For example, a horse might fear bearded me n when it sees one in the barn, but bearded men might be tolerated in the riding arena. In this situation th

Animals also tend to make place-specific associations. This means that if a horse has bad prior experiences in a barn with skylights, he may fear all barns with skylights but will be fine in barns with solid roofs. This is why it is so important that an a nimal's first association with something new is a good first experience.

Years ago a scientist named N. Miller found that if a rat was shocked the first time it entered a new passageway in a maze, it would never enter that passageway again. The same may be true for horses. For example, if a horse falls down in a trailer the fi rst time he loads, he may fear all trailers. However, if he falls down in a two-horse, side-by-side trailer the 25th time he is loaded, he may make a more specific association. Instead of associating all trailers with a painful or frightening experience,
Fear Is the Main Emotion
Fear is the main emotion in autism and it is also the main emotion in prey animals such as horses and cattle. Things that scare horses and cattle also scare children with autism. Any little thing that looks out of place, such as a piece of paper blowing i n the wind, may cause fear. Objects that make sudden movements are the most fear-provoking. In the wild, sudden movement is feared because predators make sudden movements.

Both animals and people with autism are also fearful of high-pitched noises. I still have problems with high-pitched noise. A back-up alarm on a garbage truck will cause my heart to race if it awakens me at night. The rumble of thunder has little effect. Prey species animals, such as cattle and horses, have sensitive ears, and loud noise may hurt their ears. When I was a child the sound of the school bell ringing was like a dentist drill in my ear. A loudspeaker system at a horse show may possibly have a s

People with autism have emotions, but they are simpler and more like the emotions of a vigilant prey species animal. Fear is the main emotion in a prey species animal because it motivates the animal to flee from predators. The fear circuits in an animal's brain have been mapped by neuroscientists. When an animal forms a fear memory, it is located in the amygdala, which is in the lower, primitive part of the brain. J.E. LeDoux and M. Davis have discovered that fear memories cannot be erased from the brain.

For a horse who has previously been fearful of trailers to overcome his fear, the higher brain centers in the cortex have to send a fear suppression signal to the amygdala. This is called a cortical over-ride, which is a signal that will block the fear me mory but does not delete it. If the animal becomes anxious, the old fear memory may pop back up because the cortex stops sending the fear suppression signal.

Fear-based behaviors are complex. Fear can cause a horse to flee or fight. For example, many times when a horse kicks or bites, it is due to fear instead of aggression. In a fear-provoking situation where a horse is prevented from flight, he learns to fig ht. Dog trainers have learned that punishing a fear-based behavior makes it worse. When a horse rears, kicks, or misbehaves during training, it may make the trainer feel angry. The trainer may mistakenly think that the horse is angry. But the horse is muc
Effects of Genetics
In all animals both genetic factors and experience determine how an individual will behave in a fear-provoking situation. Fearfulness is a stable characteristic of personality and temperament in animals. Animals with high-strung, nervous temperaments are generally more fearful and form stronger fear memories than animals with calm, placid temperaments. For example, research on pigs conducted by Ted Friend and his students at Texas A&M University showed that some pigs will habituate to a forced non-painful

Pigs were put in a tank where they had to swim for a short time. This task was initially frightening to all of the pigs and caused their adrenaline level to go up. Adrenaline is secreted in both people and animals when they are scared.

Over a series of swimming trials, some pigs habituated and were no longer scared, but others remained fearful throughout the trials. In the pigs that did not habituate adrenaline stayed elevated, which showed that the pigs were still afraid.

It is likely that horses would respond to different training methods in a similar manner. Horses with calm placid dispositions are more likely to habituate to rough methods of handling and training compared to flighty, excitable animals. The high-strung, spirited horse may be ruined by rough training methods because he becomes so fearful that he fails to learn, or habituate.

On the other hand, an animal with a calm, nonreactive nervous system will probably habituate to a series of nonpainful forced training procedures, whereas a flighty, high- strung nervous animal may never habituate. Horses who are constantly swishing thei r tails when there are no flies present and have their heads up are usually fearful horses. In the wild, horses put their heads up to look for danger.
Effects of Novelty
As a creature of flight, how a horse reacts to novel or unusual situations or new places can be used to access his true temperament. French scientist Robert Dantzer found that sudden novelty shoved into an animal's face can be very stressful. A horse with a high-strung, fearful nature may be calm and well-mannered when ridden at home. However, his true temperament has been masked because he feels relaxed and safe in a familiar environment. When he is suddenly confronted with the' new sights and sounds at a

It is the more high-strung and fearful horses who-have the most difficulty in novel situations. At the show there are many unusual sights and sounds, such as balloons and loud public address systems, that are never seen or heard at home. An animal with a nervous temperament is calm when in a familiar environment -- he has learned it is safe -- but is more likely to panic when suddenly confronted with new things.

The paradoxical thing about novelty is that it can be extremely attractive to an animal when he can voluntarily approach it. A piece of paper lying in the pasture may be approached by a curious horse, but that same piece of paper lying on the riding trail may make the horse shy. People working with horses and other animals need to think more about how the animals' perceive the situations we put them in.

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