The two-and-a-half-year-old, who was diagnosed last November with severe to moderate autism, had exhibited symptoms of the condition from a young age: “When he was 18 months old, he had no words, was walking on tiptoes and was extremely energetic. He made no eye contact and was not very affectionate,” recalls his mother, 29-year-old Ciara Fehilly from Bishopstown, Co Cork, who recalls that her son made no progress with traditional sessions of occupational therapy.
However, on the advice of Fennec’s swim coach, she brought Fennec to Ireland’s only hippotherapy service – the Strides Therapy Clinic, an occupational therapy centre which specialises in hippotherapy, a form of physical, occupational or speech and language therapy which uses the movement of horses.
Based in rural Co Cork, the clinic uses horses to treat a range of conditions including autism, sensory processing disorder, cerebral palsy, brain injury, dyspraxia, chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome and a …