Presentation of the "Step-by-step in communication” equine-assisted therapy intervention program for children with autism
ABSTRACT The objective of this paper is to present the “Step-by-step in communication” equine-assisted speech-language-hearing rehabilitation program to treat language impairment in children. The program was developed in three stages: literature analysis, pilot application, and clinical analysis. The literature was analyzed by searching, reading, and discussing articles and books on the topic, published up to 2018. After this stage, the first version of the program was developed. This version addressed: participants’ language assessment, application of 10 sessions, monitoring and record of activities in each session, participants’ reassessment, and adjustment of techniques and activities. The clinical analysis took place after the pilot application with the following procedures: analysis by three judges, revision of the approach by the authors, and development of the final version of the “Step-by-step in communication” program, comprising eight theme modules with 24 sessions, and based on four main pillars, which are applied in equine-assisted therapy activities. Each pillar has specific objectives and strategies. The activities aim at formal (semantic and morphosyntactic) and pragmatic aspects of language. Their theoretical/practical framework is grounded on functional grammar, and the strategies are based on equine-assisted therapy experiences that open the way for communication.