Autism Spectrum Alternative Program
ASAP is an equine facilitated sensory integration program for individuals on the autism spectrum or with other physical, mental, emotional or behavior challenges.

ASAP is an equine facilitated sensory integration program for individuals on the autism spectrum or with other physical, mental, emotional or behavior challenges. Our mission is to demonstrate the effectiveness of our equine facilitated programs in meeting the social and emotional needs of individuals on the spectrum in a positive and sensitive manner.

Our primary goal is to continue to research alternative treatment modalities using equine facilitated therapy as our strong foundation and furthering our success with attention given to the balance of cognitive and creative energies found in all people. Our program, as you will see demonstrated here, is applicable for all mental, physical, emotional or behavior challenges of all ages. We have had tremendous success with individuals facing cancer and similar diseases, Alzheimer’s, blindness, deafness, juvenile delinquency, and emotional traumas. Our staff includes our holistic team of doctors, therapists and life coaches available to all members of the family. We work with art therapy, color and sound therapy, Reiki, massage, reflexology, acupuncture, aromatherapy, kinesiology, natural foods and coaching. Other innovative solutions are detailed below and are unique to our program.

ASAP’s principle research objectives are to understand and communicate with individuals who have difficulty collecting, processing and communicating information. We discover learning capabilities outside the typical classroom environment identify these abilities and develop them through sensory integration activities directly connected with horses and natural, holistic solutions. By collecting these keys we create an individual’s database of learning styles to maximize their potential for learning. Our students can choose from several activities each session giving them as many opportunities as possible to make choices encouraging self expression and self awareness. Observing their patterns while playing, noticing their activity preferences and personal choices gives us the keys to their changing views of themselves and the world around them. By using horses and natural therapies, our goal is to offer inexpensive, non-invasive alternatives to living with autism and other behavior challenges that can fit into anyone’s lifestyle.

ASAP includes the family, an important and unique aspect of this program where siblings are welcome to ride our horses, swing on our Circle Swing, experience the Rainbow Labyrinth and relax in the Peaceful Pyramid. Our Professional Parenting Coaching supports the integration of our sensory integration therapy into their lifestyles through art, sound and nutritional therapy. ASAP is located at Sonoran Trails Ranch in Cave Creek. Our facilities are clean and safe with a petting zoo, arenas and miles of natural desert trails. ASAP is a non-profit organization with an excellent volunteer program, tuition assistance and exciting fundraisers.

Sonoran Trails Ranch is a great place where horse and rider meet for the first time and before anyone is aware, a connection between horse and human is established resulting in a healing, nurturing bond. This bond of unconditional acceptance and absolute truth offers firm foundations in which individuals feel secure enough to grow. Horseback riding is an excellent tool to integrate socialization skills with viable opportunities to use these skills. Our riding sessions are much more than hippo therapy or physical therapy on a horse. They are an emotional energy exchange of understanding and love. The unconditional love and support between the individual and the horse allows the person the freedom to explore their emotions and trust their intuition. This relationship provides a healing, nurturing bond that can last a lifetime, opening the door for self-awareness, confidence and communication. Success of our program is measured by the physical, mental and emotional growth reviewed through these five main areas: speech/language/communication, sociability, sensory/cognitive awareness, health/physical behavior and personal growth skills.

ASAP instructs riders to their highest potential. Horseback riding is a very normalizing experience giving the rider a very different perspective, literally and figuratively, on themselves and their surroundings. The magic of riding, physically, mentally and emotionally is an experience that can bring balance and joy into the lives of many individuals who would otherwise continue to retreat inward. Physically, the natural gait of the horse exactly duplicates the vestibular motion of the human walk; side to side, back and forth and up and down. This stimulates all sensory systems, most importantly the central vision center which is critical for individuals faced with peripheral vision. Peripheral vision, sight primarily to the sides with little to no vision straight ahead, is used to our advantage while walking with students on each side of the horse.

Our gymnastics arena, the Color Corral, is set up with ground poles, barrels and other obstacles for riders to navigate and trot around adding to the development of their skills. In addition to our arena, our desert trails are full of visual stimulation from stuffed animals highlighting our Alphabet Alley to the desert cactus and wildlife. Communication and cognitive skills are developed easily in this environment. Emotionally, the unconditional love and support between the individual and the horse allows them the freedom to explore their emotions and trust their intuition. Our well-trained horses and staff can accommodate inexperienced children as well as people who ride with confidence.

Our Circle Swing
Our Circle Swing is an indispensable tool stimulating balance and relaxation. Our innovative, patented design is based on a horse hot walker modified to accommodate four therapeutic swings. Operating with three speeds, forward and reverse, our Circle Swing is especially powerful for children with peripheral vision when objects on either side of them are clearer and the subject of their focus and attention. Swinging in a circular motion gives the individual a continuous panoramic view of their surroundings enabling them to see their entire environment with more clarity and detail, awareness and confidence. Some children with vision challenges engage in sensory play, or stemming, such as spinning, twirling objects, running back and forth, flapping their hands or arms, rocking and twirling as well as tilting their heads frequently or jumping up and down. Moving helps them see the whole picture, especially while swinging in the Circle Swing because they can see the whole picture, unobstructed and continuous therefore increasing their visual awareness, confidence and comfort levels.

While riding horses students have to be centered and focused with their equine partner or they will fall off. Instinctively they want to stay balanced and not fall. This concentration while riding balances their bodies and strengthens their undeveloped central vision. A person with peripheral vision can appear to be looking at an object in front of them but they see more detail on objects around the edges of the field of vision. Sometimes they seem to stare off into space at nothing in particular while looking at what is happening to the left or the right. Centered vision is developed while riding as instructions are given from the sides of the horse but the individual’s focus and attention is brought to the top of the horse’s head. The posture encouraged through riding is head up, shoulders back and vision centered with their focus forward further developing balance and vision improvement.

Our Rainbow Labyrinth
A labyrinth is often confused with a maze. Children’s activity books are filled with maze games, which present a challenge, finding the right path to reach the destination in spite of dead ends, wrong choices or turns. A labyrinth is an ancient and powerful tool, which is unicursal, offering only one route to the center and back out again, no choices, no decisions left or right, and no dead ends. No matter where you are in the labyrinth you can always see the center. From any vantage point in the labyrinth a person can see the entire path in and out. This provides the individual with a sense of safety, security and confidence. Once you set foot on the path, the labyrinth gently leads you to the center of both the labyrinth and yourself. It is one of the oldest contemplative and transformational tools known to man symbolizing unity and wholeness while increasing the peaceful vibration within and around us. It has been used cross culturally for centuries for prayer, ritual, and initiation as well as personal and spiritual growth. The energy field of the labyrinth can provide a window into the world of intuition. People who walk the labyrinth may experience inner peace, contentment, rejuvenation and often physical, emotional or spiritual healing. It helps balance the activity of the left and the right brain to give clarity in thinking and problem solving. A labyrinth may be thought of as right brain or intuitive and the maze is left-brain or cognitive.

Labyrinths are one of the ancient mysteries that can help us connect to our own life journey. The use of labyrinths has been traced back over 3,50 years. It is both a physical path and a spiritual path helping us connect by harmonizing and balancing our body, mind and spirit. Walking the labyrinth fulfills several important contemporary needs, simplicity, introspection and connection to the soul, access to intuition and creativity, integration of the body and spirit, deepening spirituality and connection to self and community.

Our Peaceful Pyramid
Sitting under our Peaceful Pyramid assists in balancing our energy or charkas, relieving minor aches, enhancing sleep, eliminating headaches, allowing deeper states of meditation, relaxing the body and mind as well as increasing memory recall. Hypertensive people become more tranquil and lethargic people become energetic again. It is documented that table top pyramids can sharpen razor blades, energize gemstones, enhance plant growth, purify water, detoxify foods, keep foods fresher, and mosquitoes will not enter a pyramid so it keeps food bug free while it energizes our food. Our Peaceful Pyramid is relaxing and very popular among all individuals.

A pyramid can be described as an electromagnetic energy collector, or antenna, that collects the frequencies of energies and places them in layers, one upon the other, similar to the way in which a prism breaks up white light into seven colors of the full spectrum. The pyramids’ energy is also composed of seven sub levels. These seven sub components of magnetism correspond to the seven major energy centers in the human body called charkas. A pyramid can help an individual learn to use and understand the electromagnetic field of their own aura. A pyramid acts as an antenna and magnifies the receivers’ ability to use our energy known as our aura, the life force energy of the human body.

ASAP’s equine facilitated sensory integration therapy program is unique, successful, innovative and duplicable. Training sessions are available seasonally for persons interested in starting their own program in their community.

There are no other programs like this, anywhere.

Author's Bio: 

I have an extensive and varied professional career with over twenty years of community and non-profit organization service including Founder and Executive Director of two non-profit organizations. I have been involved in community service for over 25 years focusing on individuals with alternative learning abilities, (ALA). My professional experience includes five years of grant writing and understanding the full range of activities required to prepare, submit and manage grant proposals to foundations and corporate sources.
As an Executive Director I was responsible for building and developing a positive rapport with major businesses, corporations and donors. I was also responsible for assisting the marketing director with public communications such as newsletters, publications and public appearances. The scope of my experience includes the ability to successfully obtain information from a wide range of development staff, businesses, organizations, donors, and families.
My education and experience as a Life Coach has enhanced my communication and listening skills, an excellent asset in business. I am organized and enjoy managing complex problems and finding a solution when one seems obscure. This problem solving is reflected in my projects and research to rebuild balance and harmony for individuals with alternative learning abilities. My years of experience as a foster parent, a counselor for at risk boys and girls and as the social director for two community social programs for youth enhance my versatility and experience for solving problems creatively.
My years as assistant career director is not reflected on my resume as it was primarily volunteer consultations, networking with businesses and individuals to increase job and career goals. Understanding that all individuals have different learning styles lead me to explore the other alternative learning abilities I saw in so many individuals. This is a powerful concept that is very informative and successful for evaluations, treatments and effective job/career placements.