The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

03 February 2014

Equine Therapy at Tagaytay Highlands

This photo diary is a contribution of Ms. Thea Peña of ASP Bacoor.

Our family recently took a day trip to Tagaytay Highlands Equestrian Park. Mr. Henry Ocier hopes to introduce equine therapy for individuals with ASD to parents and professionals as a therapeutic, occupational and recreational outlet. He showed us the places in the zoo and sports center where children with ASDs can leisurely engage their energies to sensorial satisfaction. Together with Mr. Nelson Mendoza, Estate Administrator of Tagaytay Highlands, Mr. Ocier expressed hope of launching a project where the autism community, including professionals, will be welcomed in the place to engage the kids in various activities such as equine therapy, zoo tripping, bowling, etc. Mr. Ocier also plans to set up a PWD awareness seminar for the Tagaytay Highlands community soon.

This is the horse riding area, a sand-filled terrain designed with platforms for horse riders to train the horses and for visitors to experience horsemanship in safety under the guidance and supervision of the experts. There is a smaller ring for beginner riders, which is so designed to keep a horse in control of his pacing and speed.

Mr. Henry Ocier gave tips on how equine therapy can help a person with ASD to overcome certain sensory challenges, develop social skills, and even improve communication. Here he is teaching Muneer how to clear hardened mud on Clik Clik’s hooves by scraping the cake of mud using a sharp scalpel. It must be done with both firmness and gentleness.

He also showed Muneer how to brush a horse’s hairy body. Here, Muneer poses affectionately with Clik Clik while brushing his smooth, brown hair.

Kuya Bonnie, an expert with the zoo animals who reminds me of Matanglawin’s Kuya Kim, shows Muneer a parrot, to which he responds by caressing it with curiosity and amusement.

I took this picture because this school of turtles caught my attention. Though I am not familiar with turtles, the white and larger one is apparently “exceptional” compared to the others, owing to the diversity in the species of turtles. It is similar to a special child, unique in its own way, different and yet not impossible to live and thrive among us.

Mama (ASP National President Jan Peña) and Muneer meet the angels of Tagaytay Highlands! Kuya Bonnie (far left), zoo custodian, Mr. Henry Ocier (center) and Kuya Arthur, sports custodian.

Upon seeing us approach her fence, this snow-colored lama gracefully walked up to us in a gesture of greeting and welcomed us with a wink of an eye! Some animals indeed are neither hostile nor indifferent to us—but are actually pretty friendly. They seem to have an instinct with connecting to others, not of their kind.

Guess who’s lucky day it is today! One of Muneer’s favorite sports is bowling, good for him, Tagaytay Highlands feature a sports center as one of its recreational facilities, with sports such as bowling, badminton, tennis, squash, and gym. In this photo, Sir Henry tutors Muneer the proper way to swing the ball.

Sir Henry made a drawing of Muneer together with Clik Clik and gave it to Muneer as a souvenir. Muneer then is asked to imitate the picture, and signed it with his name on the horse afterwards. Close enough. Not bad Muneer!


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