Wilderwood’s flagship program is contained in our unique curriculum Hautism, an autistic-designed and autistic-led equine assisted curriculum for adults that involves classroom coursework, individual and small-group discussion, reflective assignments, equine interaction, fieldwork, and a customized mentor-assisted plan (or course of action) to assist participants make and meet their individual goals, whether that’s related to career, employment, general living, or other personal goal attainment. The autistic adult program is offered throughout the year in an immersive, two-week format, making it possible for participants to come from throughout the United States.
Wilderwood’s Equine Assisted program for children involves an innovative and integrative approach drawn from Social Emotional Learning, Mind/Body Connectivity, Osteopathic and Cranial-Sacral therapy, Occupational Therapy, the cognitive linguistic approach of Decritique, and reflective awareness of interoception. Autistic adults are active participants in the program as assistants, mentors, and role-models. The autistic children’s program is offered in twelve-week sessions of one-hour a week throughout the year.
The outcomes for Wilderwood’s programs include measurable improvement in:
- Self-awareness, confidence, and connection with others
- Positive emotional regulation and management
- Reduced emotional distress and anxiety
- Achievement of personal goals and aspirations
- Improved appreciation of mind/body interoception
For Autistic Adults
Drawn from the philosophy of Hautism, or the innate connection between horses and autistic people, Wilderwood’s program for autistic adults focuses on participants identifying a significant directional change in their lives they wish to pursue and creating a launching plan to put the ideas into action. Participants work on developing stronger self-perception by reframing autism positively and opening the possibility of change through greater self-discovery and awareness. The program is completed through classroom course activities and fieldwork, lectures, small group discussions, one-on-one discussions, reading and writing assignments, equine-assisted activities, reflective experiences, and engaging with a sense of acceptance and belonging. Participants also learn about reflective communication involving thoughts, feelings, and emotions through interactions with the horses. Interventional osteopathic manipulative, craniosacral, occupational and/or other therapies may be added as indicated.
For Participants aged 8-18
Wilderwood’s equine-assisted therapy program is designed for participants between the ages of 8 and 18 to benefit from the connection between horses and autistic people, as well as improve communication skills and physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being through mounted (riding) and unmounted (groundwork) activities. Wilderwood’s program is designed by educators, equine specialists, and medical professionals, including osteopathic and occupational therapy practitioners. Autistic adults, as mentors and supporters, are an integral part of the program.
While Wilderwood is potentially open to any participant, it is important to note that its programs focus on and are designed specifically by and for autistic people.