About Research At Dream Catchers 

Research in the field of EAAT is scarce, and quantifying the impact helps not only the participants at Dream Catchers, but people being served in EAAT programs around the world.

Autism is the most frequent diagnosis reported annually to PATH Intl. The research findings are shared at PATH Intl conferences, conferences for school psychologists, and with others working to improve the lives of people with special needs.

Since 2007 a partnership with professors at the College of William & Mary has conducted research of the effects of therapeutic riding on children with autism who are taught in self-contained classes. The initial research demonstrated that therapeutic riding reduces the severity of behavioral symptoms of autism and improves the social communication of children with autism. That study was published in the leading peer-reviewed, scholarly periodical under the title “The Association Between Therapeutic Horseback Riding and the Social Communication and Sensory Reactions of Children with Autism” by Ward, S.C., Whalon, K., Rusnak, K., Wendell, K., & Paschall, N. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2013, 10.1007/s10803-013-1773-3.

A subsequent study of elementary aged children with autism in self contained classes compared the effects of coming to the barn without interactions with horses to interacting on the ground with horses and therapeutic riding. Therapeutic riding was found to be the element that created significant impact.

The preliminary findings of the most recent study, which focused on middle and high school age children with autism being served in self-contained classes, indicate that the behaviors typically associated with autism decreased significantly during the study period and remained significantly lower on final measurement. Parental stress also decreased significantly during the study in some areas. These findings are being prepared for submission to peer reviewed journals and international presentations.

Dream Catchers has been serving people with dementia by providing activities on the ground with horses and mounted on horseback for several years. We anticipate beginning a research study on the outcomes for people with dementia in 2016-2017. 

For Our Fellow PATH Intl Centers

We welcome your use of our research results, properly cited and acknowledged, for your grant or sponsorship requests.  We request that you send an email with your center’s name, the project which is associated with your use of our research, and the amount of funding secured. Please send your email to Kymberly Schott.​

Research Handout 1

Research Handout 2