The importance of balance and postural control in children with autism spectrum disorders

Doctoral candidate of the Education Programme of Castellón’s Jaume I University (UJI), Juan Vives Vilarroig, has highlighted in his thesis the importance of working on basic aspects such as balance and postural control to improve sensory integration in children with autism spectrum disorders, using horses as the main elements of this intervention.Animal-assisted therapy

Resesarch project “Efectos de un programa educativo asistido con caballos en el equilibrio y control postural de un grupo de niños con trastorno del espectro autista”, guided by professor Paola Ruiz Bernardo (UJI) and professor Andrés García Gómez (University of Extremadura) has been defended in late July and has received the grade of excellent cum laude with an international mention.

The thesis addresses an innovative methodology that uses animal-assisted therapy, in this case horses, as a complement to the formal education conducted inside the classroom. Children with autism spectrum disorders have taken part in it for eight months, and their evolution has been analysed in the research.

The conclusions of the study indicate that when the balance and postural control increases, their academic and social performance increase, and that taking education out of the classic surroundings of the classroom and taking it to natural environments, and motivating students with new educational strategies are the main challenge of new teachers to be able to generate inclusive educational surroundings.

In relation to this research, the UJI held the first International Congress on Animal-Assisted Therapy in 2017, with the participation of researchers from different countries (Spain, USA, Argentina, Mexico, etc.); several articles have been published in scientific journals, and the first scientific book in Spain on this issue has been published.