About Us

Mission

Wilderwood’s program is summed up with a simple equation:

Wilderwood + Horses + Autistic People = Jobs , Career, Life.

Wilderwood’s unique 9-month equine-assisted curriculum is for autistic teens and adults to:

  • Strengthen self perception and self-possibility;
  • Achieve career and employment goals; and
  • Embrace and celebrate the innate connection between horses and autistics.

Wilderwood also rescues unwanted horses, provides them a lifetime loving home, and educates the community about horses.

Program

  • 9 month, three-semester curriculum equivalent to 9 semester credit hours (SCH) at community college or vocational/trade school;
  • Taught and developed by university faculty and educational specialists with input from fields of psychology, medicine, sociology, psychology, and philosophy;
  • Unique capstone preceptorship creates transferable work skills and job opportunity.

A Unique Approach

The curriculum differs from most existing work and career training for disabled people in three main ways:

  1. 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;
  2. Draws on the philosophy of Hautism, or the innate connection between horses and autistic people;
  3. Combines focus on self-awareness and management with tangible job and career skill guided by educators and other professionals in small groups.

Statistics

  • 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;[1]
  • 85% percent of autistic college graduates are unemployed.[2]

Fees and Facts

  • $3,200: Tuition for 9-month program [3]
  • Instructional hours per participant: 64
  • Cost per instructional hour: $50
  • Counties served: Valencia, Bernalillo, Socorro, Sandoval, Torrance
  • Eligible for the Mi Via program
  • Registered providers with the New Mexico Department of Vocational Training

[1] 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.

[2] Hess, Peter. “Autistic People Report Poor Health, Low Life Satisfaction.” Spectrum. 10 Apr. 2020.

[3] $3,200 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