“My non-verbal, autistic son started speaking after jumping on our neighbor’s horse – now he’s 20 years old and completely independent.”


When Rupert Isaacson’s autistic son was three years old, he was nonverbal. It was feared that he would never be able to communicate effectively.

However, young Rowan’s life changed drastically when he hopped on his neighbor’s horse, Betsy, and began to speak slowly.

Rowan is now 20 and although he is still autistic (“absolutely,” said his father Mr Isaacson), he is fully independent, owns his own home and is looking forward to starting college soon.

Mr. Isaacson dedicated his life to helping his son and after discovering the benefits of horse therapy for children with autism, he founded The Horse Boy Foundation, a US and UK based charity.

Although he is a professional horse trainer, Mr Isaacson said it was “completely by accident” that horseback riding changed his son’s trajectory.

“When you’re diagnosed with severe autism because your child is nonverbal, incontinent, and has constant meltdowns, you don’t know what to do,” he said Irish Independent.

“We went to behavioral therapy and it wasn’t working, it was making it worse… so I asked if that wasn’t working, what would work and who could tell me?

“I needed someone who was autistic and was as strict as my son as a kid but somehow made it through.

“And that was Dr. Temple Grandin, she’s a professor of animal science, but she’s also a neuroscientist.”

dr Grandin told him he had to physically follow Rowan and try to perceive both his positive and negative sensory triggers.

British-born Mr. Isaacson now lives in Germany but was living in Texas with his family at the time, and after receiving this advice he began following then-3-year-old Rowan into the woods behind her house.

“During one of those logging expeditions, Rowan saw my neighbor’s mare, Betsy,” he said.

“I’m a professional rider and the irony of the whole story is that I kept my son away from horses because I didn’t think he would be safe with them.

“He walks up to Betsy and builds a relationship with her and he shows me with his hands that he wants to get up.

“I know she’s calm, so I pick him up and let him lie on top of her and all his excited behavior went away.

“I did not know it [the science behind it] At that point I was just like ‘that’s good’ and then I was like ‘what about the horseback riding?’”

Mr Isaacson said he was forming sentences within six weeks of his son getting in the saddle.

“We rode down to a pond and a heron gets up and flutters away and says ‘heron.’ I didn’t know he knew that word and I was like, ‘Oh my God, something’s happening.’

“Another irony is that it was the same week that his speech therapist gave him up — but I said, ‘Don’t worry, I found a new therapist, and she has four legs.'”

A bestselling author, Mr. Isaacson is currently in Ireland for the RDS Horse Show where he is lecturing and demonstrating with Child Vision on equine therapy in the ‘Positive Strides’ zone.

The charity is currently raising funds to establish a national equine assisted therapy center in Drumcondra, Dublin for blind and neurodiverse children.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/my-non-verbal-autistic-son-began-to-speak-after-hopping-on-our-neighbours-horse-now-he-is-20-years-old-and-completely-independent-41914268.html “My non-verbal, autistic son started speaking after jumping on our neighbor’s horse – now he’s 20 years old and completely independent.”

Fry Electronics Team

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