What is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of three. Autism is a lifelong disorder, with no cure.

Autism impacts normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities. Autism symptoms range from mild to severe.

New Jersey has the highest rate of diagnosis with autism spectrum disorders in the US. One in 34 children in the state is diagnosed with the disorder by their 8’h birthday. That compares with one in 59 children nationally.

* In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASO). They included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (POD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. Additional statistics courtesy of April 2018 CDC Report and November 2019 WHO ASD Fact Sheet.

Autism and Equine Therapy

Equine therapy addresses key symptoms affiliated with autism: communication and social skills, lowered sensory skills, motor skills, and response to verbal cues and external stimuli.

When you ride, you develop a bond with your horse and they become familiarized with your movements, attitudes and emotions, which make them extremely effective in bonding with an autistic person and encouraging communication and interaction.

At the Zsido Ranch, autistics will learn to focus on something outside of themselves and learn to communicate and interact by responding to verbal cues from the instructor.

Whether a child needs more individualized support or is ready to transition to the community, the Zsido Ranch’s qualified staff will ensure support to promote their highest potential is provided.

Program Manager, Michelle Kitchener and Equine Manager, Ellen Martin are both very experienced, passionate and empathetic to the community being served. The supportive staff, volunteers, and parents all want to make a difference in the autistic population and share in the mission and vision of the Zsido Ranch.