Around the World

A Story For the Optimist Inside of Us All

Hallie Witwer
Doesn't it always seem like every single news story we hear is filled with the evils of today's world? I've noticed it more than ever, as of late, and felt that I needed to write a piece for AltOhio that would act as a reminder to people that the world isn't all bad. I needed to write it for myself as much as for my readers. Here is a story that shows that the disability known as Autism doesn't mean the end of world discovery.

Rupert Isaacson was feeling emotionally exhausted and helpless when it came to his autistic son, Rowan. However, when Rowan was almost 3 years old and snuck through his neighbor's fence to lie down amongst her horses, Rupert's eyes were opened up as he observed his son resting peacefully. He had never seen his son at peace before and it was a sight to behold. This event led Rupert to continue exposing his son to horses, the only thing that seemed to have a positive effect on him.

Without the support of his wife, Rupert began to plan a trip to Mongolia for him and his son. He chose Mongolia for two reasons- the presence of horses and shamanism. He believed these were the perfect combination for at least partial healing of Rowan. Despite being called crazy by his friends and family, Rupert and Rowan set out on their journey to Mongolia…with surprising results.

As they trekked across Mongolia, Rowan was introduced to spiritual healers as well as provided with continuous exposure to horses. With each passing day he showed improvement, though not without setbacks. While he still had occasional fits and bouts of extreme withdrawal, overall he was opening up and becoming more social. He was even befriending some of the children in the villages. When things got rough, he found solace through his beloved horses.

While Rowan's parents have admitted that his symptoms very well may have subsided without the journey to Mongolia, Rupert has no regrets regarding the trip. They, as well as the rest of Rowan's loved ones; know that the important thing is that he's showing improvement. He and his horses have brought hope to both his parents and the Autistic community.

Children with autism struggle daily with social situations, sensory issues, and keeping up with their peers academically. Infiltrating horses into an autistic child's therapy routine has been proven to help many of these difficulties. It particularly helps with social and sensory problems.

Right here in Ohio, there are several farms that offer therapy to Autistic children through interaction with horses. Autism Speaks offers this list of excellent Ohio locations: Fieldstone Farm in Chagrin Falls, Timber Run Farm in Alexandria, Mane Stride in Amherst, Safe Haven Farms in Middletown, and Trinity Horse Farm in Medina. If you have a family member who is autistic, or know someone who does, please suggest this form of therapy. I, personally, have an adored autistic family member who had an extremely positive experience with equine therapy. I will confidently vouch for the positive results, myself. We need to take advantage of these great opportunities Ohio has to offer, when I know that a spiritual journey to the far corners of the world just isn't in the cards for everyone…at least not yet.

Here's to hope, Ohio! Go ahead and smile, you know you want to.
*Photo courtesy of Google Images