1-Equine-assisted social-emotional skills strengthening ©
EASESS© for children is a horse-assisted intervention developed by Marianne Disipio, which combines learning to self-regulate through semi-structured and experiential interactions with horses on the ground for immediate biofeedback, with one-on-one interactive imaginative play gently guided to address the child’s specific social-emotional goals. It can be viewed as a behavioural developmental approach to providing support to your child.
Marianne has a degree in Occupational Therapy and has used her extensive training in developmental disorders, her unique Soulful Model for Wellness©, as well as her knowledge of the therapeutic qualities of horses to create a magical program that values children’s main occupation of play, honours their need to make personal choices and recognizes that children are better prepared to face their challenges when they feel connected to life, as well as supported in all their environments. Just like us adults!
Results you can expect from PRIVATE one-on-one EASESS© sessions
- Your child will ALWAYS look forward to playing with Marianne.
- An individualized intervention program plan approved by both parents and, most of all, your child.
- Helping your child recognize signs and symptoms in their body and behaviour when they are becoming unregulated versus when they are in control of their attention and emotions. This is done through the direct feedback the horses provide during interactions.
- Exploring and identifying the best soulful coping strategies for your child.
- Addressing social goals by incorporating the just-right challenge for your child to practice problem-solving through meaningful and high-affect play.
- Ongoing support for parents and possible considerations for school.
- Having your child beg you for a pony. Sorry about that one in advance!
Is your child the right fit?
These sessions are ideal for sensitive children struggling with mild to moderate social-emotional issues at home and at school. These include attention, emotional fluctuations, rigidity in interactions, difficulty with transitions, difficulty making or keeping friends, unwillingness to follow instructions, limited play repertoire, and more.
Your child will enjoy the sessions tremendously if they love animals (especially horses) and being outdoors. Sessions are also a great fit for creative and intuitive children who would thrive on learning soulful ways to work on their self-esteem.
If your child is unsure about working with horses or decides they are not quite ready initially, no worries at all! We will begin our intervention by focusing on our other goals and, if need be, readjusting our approach.
The age required for a child to be with horses in the paddocks with only Marianne and no parent present is 8 years old. Depending on your child’s profile or if your child is younger, you may be asked to accompany your child for this part of the session only.
If your child is a tween or teen, the program can be adjusted to be developmentally appropriate.
Who is not the right fit?
Unfortunately, children who experience unpredictable physical outbursts or tantrums would not be a good fit for safety reasons. This also includes a tendency to spontaneously run and/or loud verbalizations. Certain mobility limitations may not be appropriate as well for safety reasons. Feel free to ask.
In case of rain and storms
Outdoor sessions with the horses are not conducted in the rain or during heavy wind, ice, or snow storms.
Winter programming for weekly FSCD students with BDS contracts
As the weather changes, FSCD contract goals can be addressed indoors through various mediums for those weekly students with behavioural developmental support contracts wanting to continue working with Marianne. When weather permits, there will be a portion of the session spent outdoors with the horses, however, students have the option to choose a variety of other exciting ways to strengthen their social-emotional skills:
-Regulating movement-based activities
-Skill-targeting imaginative play when developmentally appropriate
-Self-reflecting exercises based on cognitive-behavioural principles and mindfulness
HORSEplay© for children aged 3-7 years
Although children of all ages can benefit from being around horses, Equine-assisted Social-Emotional Skills Strengthening@ sessions are most effective for children ages 7-8 and up and, therefore, limited to that age group. Please note that this is also an insurance requirement. But don’t despair! Marianne has developed a social-emotional skill strengthening program for kids between the ages of 3-7 called HORSEplay©. This program can be considered a great pre-cursor to the EASESS© program!
Not only will your child get safe, supervised, and controlled exposure to horses at the beginning and end of each session (weather permitting), but they will also be encouraged to let their imagination run wild as they unknowingly tackle their behavioural developmental social-emotional goals through horse-themed play (and more)!
Marianne’s HORSEplay© program is based on the foundational framework of the DIR© (developmental, individual-difference, relationship-based) model developed by Dr Stanley Greenspan. By following the child’s lead, it is possible to use the child’s most motivating interests to practice strengthening reciprocal interactions in a safe state of optimal regulation. Your child does not need to adapt to the social situation and environment; both are adapted to accommodate your child’s unique neurodiverse profile! Research has determined that children learn when they are happiest and having fun, and this program sets them up for success!
Parents, you will be given fun play strategies to practice at home, as well as practical ideas to optimize everyday interactions!
In warmer months, sessions will be mostly outdoors. In cooler months, weather permitting, we will be greeting the horses outside at the beginning of our sessions, conducting our sessions indoors, and doing a wrap-up outdoors in front of the horses.
Rates for all one-on-one private sessions
1 hr. Session
$95 with suggestions
5 Session Pkg.
$ 429 (save $46)
10 Session Pkg.
$619 (save $331)
NOTE: All sessions are 1 hour in length.
If you have an open file with FSCD, please contact your caseworker to find out what supports and services your child is eligible for through the FSCD program.
Can’t afford it but feel this would be awesome
Marianne understands how crazy expensive the world of special needs can get! Please inquire about the fully available funded scholarships!
2-Let’s practice social interactions!
Stay tuned for the next session!
A small focus group for children on the autism spectrum and children with ADHD
A new study found that our quality of life is directly related to our perceived satisfaction with our relationships. Social flexibility is also becoming the most sought-after trait in the workforce. It is crucial to start building these skills in our children who might struggle in this area. The more practice our children can get, the better! And if we can make it fun, even more fantastic!
Ages 8-11 (may consider up to 13 depending on profile). Your child does not have to present with both ASD and ADHD. It may be one or the other.
Working with horses is a fun and unique way to practice social interactions! These gentle giants make excellent practice partners for social exchanges and provide children with non-threatening feedback on adjusting their behaviour and skills!
The techniques applied in this group are based on the DIR (developmental, individual-difference, relationship-based) model and rooted in the Floortime approach.
Goals for this group will include:
- practicing initiating social contact in a warmly-related way using body language and conversation for added success
- engaging in shared attention while practicing opening and closing circles of interaction through motivating activities
- participating in fun activities that encourage shared problem-solving skills
- exploring ways of being socially flexible while still respecting self-regulation needs
A parent or an aide is required to attend the sessions to allow for sharing of individualized strategies for each child and follow-through in the home and community. It is also a great bonding activity!
All activities with the horses are done on the ground. This is not therapeutic riding; it is equine-assisted social-emotional skills strengthening. No riding.
This group is designed for children with verbal skills, no unpredictable or disruptive behaviours, and basic cognitive abilities. If your child has physical limitations, participating might still be possible; however, you would have to inquire for safety reasons.
Please find out if your child fits this program by calling Marianne to discuss 403-828-0242.
If your child has a contract with FSCD and has ALREADY been assigned hours for behavioural development, you may be eligible for partial funding. FSCD has reviewed the program. Please inquire with your FSCD case worker to see if your child qualifies.
If you do not have funding, you may still participate by paying privately. If your child does not fit the criteria listed above but you are interested in sessions, you can certainly approach Marianne to discuss private sessions.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call Marianne directly 403-828-0242! It is easier to chat in person!
3-Children’s round-up! A volunteer and educational group for kids with special needs
Calling all horse-loving kids! This is FREE! Want to learn more about horses and spend time on a magical family ranch? If you don’t mind getting a bit dirty, you can also volunteer to help out with some chores! It is a great way to spend time outdoors, develop skills, snuggle a horse, and make friends!
This is a FREE group for children with special needs of all ages. (Certain physical abilities are required; however, if there is an adult present to assist, and safety is assured, it might be suitable for children with limited physical capabilities). Please feel free to inquire!
Marianne tries to schedule this group during the warmer months of the year. You can stay for a bit or stay the entire time! Must reserve your spot or check if there is space by emailing Marianne directly at email@example.com!
Next group is scheduled for Saturday September 30th, 2023, from 10:30 am-12:00 pm!
Marianne used to work in the schools and visit classrooms when she was a pediatric Occupational Therapist for many years! Nothing would make her happier than having the students visit her and her horses! There’s so much to learn and share about these magnificent creatures and the beautiful life that comes with caring for them!
Please contact Marianne to discuss the perfect educational and/or recreational experience for your classroom! Prices are extremely affordable and dependent on time and activities! Special needs schools are absolutely welcom