Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Elmore-Staton, Lori D.

Committee Member

Parker, Julie C.

Committee Member

Downey, Laura Hall

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Human Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


This pilot study examined the effect of participation in an equine-assisted activities (EAA) program on the social functioning of participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Pre- and post-assessments via the Naples Equestrian Challenge Participant Initial Evaluation were completed by a trained Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor prior to and at the conclusion of a 12 week EAA program. 12 individuals (75% male; M age = 10.8; age range 5 – 20 years) participated. Paired-sample t-tests were conducted to examine the impact of EAA on social functioning. Analyses revealed that involvement in the EAA program resulted in a significant improvement in social functioning, but when grouped by age (5 – 10 years old, 10 – 20 years old) the effects were not significant. Lastly, individual analyses indicated that 75% of the sample had improved social functioning scores after participation in the EAA program. Results support EAA as an effective therapy for persons with ASD.



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