Year of Publication

2021

Date of Thesis

05-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Occupational Therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational therapy

Abstract

Equine Assisted Services (EAS) have been growing in popularity for autistic individuals since the beginning of the twenty-first century (Ratliffe & Sanekane, 2009; Wood et al., 2020). Many studies, of varying levels of rigor, explore the use of this intervention, though none have used first person accounts from the autistic population for data collection. To remain client-centered, first-person accounts of the intervention must be included in the body of research surrounding EAS. This mitigates bias that may be present in quantitative studies or studies designed to highlight caregiver perceptions. This phenomenological study was completed through hermeneutic-dialectical methods structured around the ideology that only the person experiencing a phenomenon can know how it affected their reality. Qualitative data was gathered using semi-structured interviews completed with four participants. Thematic analysis resulted in three themes emerging from the data sets including the influences of the barn environment, building relationships, and boosting positive self-perceptions. Results support and expand upon existing research which focuses on quantitative gains and parental or caregiver perceptions of the experience. By focusing on the voices of those involved in EAS, the multi-dimensional aspects of their experience and its benefit on increasing a wide range of capabilities were highlighted.

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