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Hippotherapy to help children with special needs

  • Iliza and her husband Ali Azman offering cheers to a young contestant.
  • Iliza hopes to help children with special needs using the most natural form of therapy.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (Sin Chew Daily) -- Some 15 special needs children at an average age of 11 took part in a horse riding competition recently.

Unlike ordinary children, these kids have very different ways of putting their unusual thoughts across. Some of them are suffering from learning disorders, and may have problem developing their language skills in addition to limb incoordination and poor mental concentration, among others.

Hippotherapy is one of the ways to help these autistic children to improve their mental coordination while stabilizing their emotions.

Iliza Muhammed Ikhbal and her pediatric consultant husband Dr Ali Azman co-founded Green Apple Hippotherapy in 2014 to provide hippotherapy treatment to children with special needs.

Son diagnosed with autism

Iliza is a mother of four, with her second child diagnosed with mild autism at the age of six.

However, she admitted that she set up the company not for the sake of her own child but a then six-year-old girl suffering from meningitis that she met in an equestrian field.

“When I was hugging this little girl with her body leaning against mine, that instantaneous feeling was miraculous beyond words.”

And because of this little girl, she told herself she had to help more people through horse riding.

“I was already a rider myself and I knew the value of the horse to human. So I started the company.”

Her second son was only diagnosed with autism a year after the company had been started.

“His father noted some unusual conditions when he was very young, including lack of eye contacts with people and a little hyperactive.

“We taught him when he was at a very young age. He was smart and could read at two and a half. So we thought there was nothing much wrong with him, until he went to a school.”

Iliza explained that her son was observed at school to have problem with linguistic expressions and they decided to take him to a hospital when his condition deteriorated.

She said hippotherapy was very common in Europe but was relatively new in Malaysia.

“We have helped more than 200 children over the past six years.”

She admitted that many parents were initially skeptical about the therapy, but undeniably it was the one closest to the nature.


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