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 Development and Family Studies

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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