San Tan Valley therapy program giving hope to families with Autism

SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ - A unique therapy program is giving hope to families struggling with Autism.
 
Hoofbeats for Heart , located in San Tan Valley has been around for about 8 years and is hoping to expand its services.
 
"The movement of the horse helps calm the kids and makes it possible for them to focus," said occupational therapist Melanie Conatser.
 
Frankie Macias has been bringing her girls to the ranch for several years.  Both sets of her twin daughters have Autism, the older girls who are seven are more severe and were non-verbal when they started the therapy.
 
"They started talking and even humming a song after their first session," she said emotionally.  "The results of what they do last a long time after the riding sessions."
 
Lisa Phillips also has seen great progress with her 9-year old son Michael who is also in the therapy.  Her oldest Matthew has a more mild form of the disorder.
 
"I see calmness in Michael after the sessions," she said.  
 
Both moms, while at one point devastated with the diagnosis have a different appreciation for their kids that they wouldn't trade despite the challenges.
 
"They don't care what anyone thinks about them and I cherish that," said Phillips.
 
Hoofbeats for Heart , a non-profit is trying to expand its services to reach more families. Their long term goal is to build an indoor facility to be able to continue the therapy during the hot summer months.
 

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