'It's beautiful': Nova Scotia summer camp to offer special therapy program for autistic children
Published Saturday, July 9, 2016 8:51PM ADT
Last Updated Saturday, July 9, 2016 9:25PM ADT
BRIDGEWATER, N.S. -- The Hinchinbrook Farm Society is giving autistic children and their families a chance to learn about the Horse Boy Method, a type of therapy in which children are encouraged to ride, touch and even paint horses.
"We wanted to introduce the methods at a weekend camp to families that have never before experienced Horse Boy Methods,” said Patty McGill, with the Hinchinbrook Farm Society.
The Hinchinbrook Farm Society offers the only Horse Boy program in Nova Scotia. This year, the farm is also offering a sponsored summer camp for the first time.
The camp will also feature Chris Ulmer, a very special guest who flew in all the way from Florida.
"We're travelling the world and interviewing kids from all over who have diagnoses, showing that through love and through acceptance you can connect with anyone," said Ulmer.
Chris Ulmer was a special education teacher based in Florida. He says that his experiences in the classroom inspired him to start a full-time blog.
"I just saw this intense intelligence in them, and a humour that you don't really understand until you spend a lot of time with these kids,” he said. “I wanted the world to see that intelligence."
Ulmer's Facebook page, "Special Books by Special Kids," has more than 500,000 followers, and some of his videos have topped three million views.
"The reason it's successful is because I put it out there, and it's real. It paints an accurate picture of these humans that have been marginalized by society,” he said. “We've shunned these people, but when you put them out there, you realize they have something to contribute to society.”
Ulmer is now on a world tour, stopping at Hinchinbrook Farm to spend time with campers and their families. He says he’s impressed by his first exposure to Horse Boy Therapy.
"The way they work and connect with these children is just fascinating. They use horses and animals and nature to bring these kids out of their shell, and to show them that communicating with other people is fun."
McGill says Horse Boy Therapy is also a great training ground for volunteers.
"Very often, a lot of them decide to go into human services fields after volunteering here. It's really cool," she said.
"It's really nice to see how they open up, and how they enjoy their time on the horse,” said Pia Fishbach, an intern at the farm. “Children you wouldn't have expected to get that calm, they really change. It's beautiful."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.