Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


McGuire, Dr. Francis

Committee Member

Conrad , Leslie

Committee Member

Cory , Dr. Lynne

Committee Member

Voelkl , Dr. Judith


The purpose of this study is to compare the frequency of occurrence of stereotypic behaviors demonstrated by a youth with autism during two recreation activities: horseback riding and board game play.. Stereotypic behaviors are one of the three diagnostic criteria for autism as listed in the DSM IV and can impact an individual's functional abilities by interfering with learning and daily social behaviors. This study examined the frequency of occurrence of stereotypic behaviors in two different recreation activities. Despite the increase of attention and press coverage autism has received in recent years, there still remains a multitude of questions about the disorder. Many of the traditional therapy approaches do not address the multifaceted aspects of autism, and leave the individual's treatment plan incomplete. Alternative therapies, such as animal-assisted therapy, have shown to be beneficial for individuals with autism by increasing attention, on task behavior, and prosocial behavior, while reducing maladaptive behaviors. Therapeutic horseback riding is a type of animal-assisted therapy, which has shown to benefit individuals with various physical disabilities but has yet to be documented for individuals with autism.