Upon meeting Jake, he’ll reach out his hand, look you straight in the eyes and say, “Hi, I’m Jakey Fine.” (Jakey is his nickname.) Most children who develop autism have difficulty engaging in the give-and-take of everyday human interactions. As a 15-year-old on the autism spectrum, this bold greeting is impressive and a testament to the amount of progress he’s made in the last year. Jake receives occupational therapy at Quantum Leap Farm.
He began with on-the-ground kinesthetic activities, increasing his comfort level to eventually ride. Initially, Jake struggled with gravitational insecurity, an anxiety induced from his body losing contact with the ground. This made daily exercises like walking up stairs or getting out of a car debilitating. When he attempted to walk up the ramp to mount a horse, his anxiety would kick in. As if a wall stood in front of him, the fear would stop him in his tracks, rendering him immobile.
After increased exposure and successful attempts at walking with assistance and encouragement, Jake built the confidence he needed to keep moving. Gradually, he’d sit on the horse for a second or two before leaping off. Most recently, Jake came to Quantum for another lesson. He voluntarily put on his helmet, walked up the ramp by himself, and mounted the horse all by himself (moment pictured above).
Jake and other children with special needs can participate in equine-assisted therapy thanks to the generosity of our donors. This support enables children to overcome unique obstacles, increasing their functional abilities and improving their quality of life.
“Jake is really improving his balance and motor planning issues,” Kimmie, Jake’s mom told us. “Every time he goes to the farm, I see a great improvement in him and his continued confidence around the animals.”