The Story of Wilderwood
Wilderwood was started by Dr. Rebecca Evanko, an autistic Ph.D and equestrian, and Dr. Mark Evanko, an osteopathic physician and equestrian, in 2018. Committed to making a difference in the live of autistic people, Rebecca and Mark started looking for programs they could adapt as their life’s work. Finding none that fit their ideals and aspirations, they worked with other specialists and professionals to create their own. The result is Wilderwood.
After piloting the original Wilderwood curriculum and working with the evolution of the program from the experience of teaching, learning, and listening to the autistic participants who completed it, Wilderwood has evolved to provide an equine-assisted therapeutic curriculum designed for both autistic adults and children. It also actively involves autistic adults as assistant instructors, resources, mentors, and role-models for autistic children, their parents, and the community.
There’s more on our story in our award-winning documentary, Hautism and Wilderwood, which can be viewed below. The documentary outlined Wilderwood’s original program, which was a nine-month curriculum. From 2022, Wilderwood’s programs are offered throughout the year in a compressed, immersive format for autistic adults and eight-week sessions for autistic children and youth.
A Unique Approach
The curriculum differs from most existing work and career training in several ways:
- Designed by autistic people for autistic people, the curriculum comes from a place of knowing and understanding the ways in which the world and learning best makes sense to autistic people;
- Draws on the philosophy of Hautism, or the innate connection between horses and autistic people;
- Combines multimodal therapeutic approaches, including equine-assisted activities, psychoeducational readings and activities, interoceptive awareness, cognitive linguistics, and osteopathic somatic perception.
Statistics about Autism
- 5,437,988 American adults are autistic;
- 2/3 do NOT have intellectual impairment, though struggle with executive functioning, self-regulation, and social interaction;
- 80% are more likely to be un/underemployed than other disability groups;
- 85% percent of autistic college graduates are unemployed.
Fees and Facts
- $2,800: Tuition for immersive adult program 
- $60/hour for children and youth program
- Registered providers with the New Mexico Department of Vocational Training
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Key Findings: CDC Releases First Estimates of the Number of Adults Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States.” 27 Apr. 2020.
 Hess, Peter. “Autistic People Report Poor Health, Low Life Satisfaction.” Spectrum. 10 Apr. 2020.
 $2,800 for Wilderwood; $3,144 at a community college. Source: Ma, Jennifer et. al. Table 2. Tuition and State Appropriations: Using Evidence and Logic to Gain Perspective. Research Report. The Urban Institute. Feb. 2018, p.10