Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne Haskins

Second Advisor

Breann Lamborn

Third Advisor

Gail Bass/Devon Olson Lambert

Abstract

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen nearly 600 percent in the past two decades, with estimates suggesting that 1 in 68 children worldwide have a clinical diagnosis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014). Children with ASD experience resultant challenges in occupational functioning due to impairments in communication, social interaction, and sensory processing. Sensory modulation issues can cause negative impacts on physical and social functioning. Modulation allows filtering of irrelevant stimuli and maintenance of an optimal level of arousal that facilitates attention to environmental demands with longer engagement in tasks (Llambias, Magill-Evans, Smith, & Warren, 2016). Recent literature suggests that occupational therapy has the potential to positively impact children with sensory modulation issues caused by autism spectrum disorder through the use of hippotherapy.

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