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Effets de l’équithérapie pour 3 enfants présentant le syndrome Smith-Magenis : la tolérance à la frustration et autres apports

Abstract : Relationships with animals are recognized as positive for children with ADHD, ASD or learning disabilities, both at home and during animal-assisted interventions. Based on these assumptions, the French association “Pas-à-pas avec Alexia” proposes equine-assisted psychotherapy to children with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS) since May 2012. This syndrome is a rare genetic disease, which has health consequences because of congenital malformations and sleeping troubles. It affects all areas of development: cognition, motor function and emotional skills. One of its characteristics is maladaptive behavior. We presented here a follow-up of three children with SMS: one girl aged 37 months old, two boys one aged 47 months old and the other one aged 74 months old (age at the beginning of the follow-up). They experienced weekly equine-assisted psychotherapy for 25 months with the same professional, a psychologist trained in equine-assisted psychotherapy. She wrote individual projects that took the child's personal issues and parental expectations into account. She analysed observation notes for each session to evaluate the effects and the relevance of this intervention. From this analysis, a feature appeared to be common in the three children, i.e. frustration intolerance which they express by tantrum for example. During those tantrums, the children could hurt themselves (e.g. hand biting, head banging, skin piking, slapping self), the pony, or even the psychologist involved. When the anger was out of control, the only way to stop it was to interrupt the relationship between the child and the dyad pony/psychologist. Without any outside stimulations, the child was able to calm himself and to “come back” with the human-animal dyad. At the end of the 25 months program, each child was able to manage frustrating events better in both equine-assisted psychotherapy and daily life. The horses’ non-verbal and non-judging characteristics helped these children to transmit their relationship issues that seem to be at the basis of their difficulties to tolerate frustration. As this equine-assisted psychotherapy was positive for these children, the program is being continued. Based on this pilot study, a wider research seems to be important to include more children with SMS in order to evaluate the quantitative effects of equine-assisted psychotherapy on their behavioral disabilities.
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Isabelle Le Hénaff, Marine Grandgeorge. Effets de l’équithérapie pour 3 enfants présentant le syndrome Smith-Magenis : la tolérance à la frustration et autres apports. Neuropsychiatrie de l'Enfance et de l'Adolescence, Elsevier Masson, 2017, 65 (6), pp.344-349. ⟨10.1016/j.neurenf.2017.04.002⟩. ⟨hal-01526339⟩



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