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Airplanes & Horses

Chase is six years old, diagnosed with autism and rides on Saturday mornings. These words from his mom say so much about some of the ways that he benefits from his time at Carousel Ranch...

"We recently traveled back to Chicago, which is where I grew up, to visit family and friends. I have flown with Chase 4 times. Each time was incredibly hard. The airport is extremely loud, and can be too much for Chase sensory wise. So much so, that one time we almost were not allowed to board the airplane because Chase couldn’t calm his body, had intense anxiety and was having pretty big meltdowns.

So every time I travel I always have a friend or my mom travel with us to help support us on the plane. This year my mom flew to California 3 days before we were going to go to Chicago so she could be there to help me. The plan was she was going to fly here early, we would all fly to Chicago together, she would then fly back to California to help get us back home and then purchased a one way flight back to Chicago. Needless to say, this is how we have ALWAYS had to travel.

We always prep Chase a week or so before we plan on traveling. We give him play by plays of what we are going to do and in what order, so he knows what to expect. So I started prepping him about our travels and he was receiving the information really well. He asked how long we were going to be gone for and I told him 12 days.

His next question I couldn’t believe he asked. He said, “Well, Mommy is Mookie coming on the plane too? How am I going to play with Mookie if I am in Chicago and he is in California? “ (Mookie is the horse Chase rides at the ranch) I explained that Mookie lived in California and he was going to visit with other friends while we were gone, but he would be here waiting to hear all about the airplane and his trip to Chicago.

Once we got to the airport, Mookie was our motivator. If I sensed Chase was getting anxious, I would say “ Chase, you need to have a calm body so you can be sure to tell Mookie all about the airplane and Chicago.” Or I would say, “ Do you think Mookie would like sitting by the window?” etc. I could not believe how well Chase responded to any talk about Mookie. He got excited and smiled and laughed on the plane. When we were boarding the plane, the pilot asked Chase if he wanted to sit in the cockpit. Chase was on cloud nine. It was the first time ever that Chase traveled without one meltdown.

Chase did so well that I decided to cancel my mom’s remaining flights. Chase and I flew on our own back to California, again without a meltdown. We had fun, joked, played games and talked about Mookie.

So I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for providing my son with the opportunity to receive such an incredible therapy. It has helped him more than I could ever express. It allowed us to travel together and have fun. It has increased his communication (talking about Mookie), which in turn has given him another coping skill to regulate his body. Carousel Ranch is more than just horse therapy. It’s about compassion, friendships, love, support and a way for our kids to connect. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!"