A Transactional Analysis of Occupational Therapy in an Equine Environment for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder

B. Caitlin Peters 1, Christof Bentele 2, and Wendy Wood 3

1 Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University
2 Department of Occupational Therapy, Colorado State University
3 Departments of Animal Sciences and Occupational Therapy, Colorado State University

Existing empirical investigations of occupational therapy services that incorporate horses for youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are limited by a lack of standardized protocols. The current study sought to support manualization of one approach to occupational therapy in an equine environment for youth with ASD (OTee HORSPLAY), by vividly describing the intervention from a transactional perspective. Direct, real-time videos plus field notes of OTee HORSPLAY were collected and then subjected to qualitative content analysis and descriptive statistical analysis. Analytical methods followed Ricoeur’s hermeneutic arc of naïve interpretation, explanation through structural analyses, and comprehensive description. Following this arc, we found many architectural spaces, sequences of occupational opportunities, and actions of practitioners and youth that fluidly shifted in relationship to one another. The results of this study will inform the development of intervention protocols that will be tested for feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy in future investigations of OTee HORSPLAY.
Keywords: occupational therapy, autism spectrum disorder, equine-assisted services, transactional perspective

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Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, equine-assisted services, occupational therapy, transactional perspective
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