ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Seventeen-year-old Alex Ebel struggles with the puzzle known as autism. Bob and Suzanne Ebel adopted him from a Russian orphanage before he was 2. By age 4, they knew he was not developing normally. At age 5, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum PDD-NOS, a complex diagnosis that means pervasive developmental delays, not otherwise specified. He had speech and language issues, learning issues, acute anxiety disorder. It's meant years of therapy.
One problem for Alex was sensory processing disorder. His skin is overly sensitive, and he is very aware of the feel of clothes he wears. Alex is comfortable with the feel of Polo shirts. He also likessameness in his routine. Therefore, he wears Polo shirts almost exclusively. And that has led him to a hobby that has helped him immensely.
Noticing the logo of the polo player on the shirt about two years ago, Alex decided that he should play polo. He reasoned, I wear Polo shirts, so I should play polo. His parents were surprised but determined to make it work. They contacted their friend Billy Busch who owns a polo club, and he put them in touch with trainer Scott Lancaster. Lancaster took Alex on as a student. The rest is history.
Alex has had to work hard on his riding skills, but he picked up the rules of the game quickly. He absolutely loves it and continues to improve his skills constantly. But while it's a lot of fun, it's also helping Alex in numerous ways, physically and mentally. His parents, his trainer, his therapists, have all noticed it. They mentioned a big boost in his confidence, improvements in speech and language patterns which has encouraged him to be more social. He walks more smoothly. The skills required to ride and play the game are helping his coordination and strength. All because he decided the Polo logo carried a message for him in real life.
The sport of kings has also become the sport that is helping a teenager deal with the challenges of autism.
Therapeutic Horsemanship's link is: http://thstl.org/ They are located in Wentzville, Mo
Equine Assisted Therapy's link is: http://eatherapy.org/ They are located in Wildwood and Town and Country, Mo.