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Autism on the rise: How animals are helping

GLENVILLE -- The Saratoga Therapeutic Equestrian Program (STEP) is a charitable, not-for-profit organization.

The organization has been around since 1986 and they are continuing to grow through donations and special grant funding to help improve the quality of life for people living with special needs.

The program is designed to help special needs individuals feel independent and confident, and this is done through tested and innovative methods using horses and "therapeutic riding," also known as hippotherapy.

Hippotherapy goes back as far as 6000 B.C. However, the actual systematic study didn't begin until 1875 in France. Since then, the research has grown tremendously. The therapy is now known for helping patients with neurological disorders.

"Hippotherapy continues to show marked improvements in posture, balance, joint movement and psychological well-being," says Executive Director and physical therapist, Kay Stanley-White.

The three dimensional movement of the horse allows the horse to put input into the patients spine and brain, and stimulants senses and the motor system.

Therapists, instructors, and dedicated volunteers work together to provide unique treatments for every one of the special needs riders. Each horse is specially selected to help riders achieve their goals.

Aside from Hippotherapy, there are other therapies and activities STEP provides:
-Exclusive "STEP-up" program
-Therapeutic riding

"Horse Sense is another program STEP uses to help individuals recover from a brain injury, such as a concussion. Many young athletes are starting to take advantage of this program," says Stanley-White.

The STEP program runs from March 1 through December 1.

For up-coming events, more information on the programs STEP has to offer, to make a donation, or if you're interested in becoming a volunteer, click here.
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