WACO, Texas – Baylor University researchers are in the midst of a two-year long study of using a mechanical horse to help children with autism improve their motor and social skills.
They call the horse the “Miracolt” – and say with a few weeks of riding it, autistic children can be more comfortable in all aspects of life.
“We hope that after the treatment sessions, after the project, we will see improvement in behavior, attention – maybe less challenging behaviors,” says Associate Psychology Professor Dr. Julie Ivey.
Ivey and her team are looking for children with autism between the ages of six and twelve to participate in the treatments. One of the major goals is to show these children some self-soothing techniques.
“The mechanical horse allows them to have that sensation of riding a horse that can help with calmness,” Ivey said. “It can help with balance. It’ll help to relax them. We do a lot of activities on the horse, as well.”
The study is meant to benefit young children before they hit high school, and the skills they learn from the Miracolt could help them further on in life to not fall behind socially.
“We know it’s really important to have a head start, an early start, with providing services to children with autism,” Ivey said. “They do better if they do have some type of services before they get to that age of middle school and high school.”
The research team also takes comfort in the fact that these studies can benefit the entire family – not just the child.
“If the child is able to develop capabilities that they didn’t have before, then they themselves are able to do it. And they get a level of confidence and independence and become less dependent on other members of the family,” says Miracolt developer Brian Garner.
The team is accepting participants on a rolling basis, and is offering $150 to those who complete the study. Those interested can reach out to Dr. Ivey at Julie_ivey@baylor.edu.