Every parent knows the joy of welcoming a child into the world and having your first is an experience unlike any other. Rupert and Kristin Isaacson felt no different when they delivered a healthy baby boy in the hospital. Like any new family, Rowan was truly a blessing, but then they started to notice strange behavior. Their son wouldn’t speak to them and seemed extremely distressed. In 2004 — when Rowan was just 2 years old — he was diagnosed with autism. This is not a new occurrence. Many people diagnosed with autism are nonverbal, such as Iris Grace, an incredible painter whose work sells for thousands of dollars!
Or Lisa Medlyn, who finds comfort and belonging in the beloved television show Sesame Street. There is nothing inherently wrong with the disability, something Rowan’s father has been working tirelessly to remind people. In a recent interview with Horse Lifestyle, he said, “When my son was diagnosed, the information I got from neurologists, doctors, therapists, and so forth was overwhelmingly negative. Even if they were really doing their best to help us… the attitude from which they were coming was that autism is a problem to fix.” For a long time, his parents weren’t sure how to reach their son.
They saw every specialist they could possibly find, tried every treatment available, and yet nothing seemed to be working. Rowan couldn’t communicate with them, and neither could they. And then something incredible happened. Rowan raced toward an animal twice his size: a beautiful horse named Betsy. Without missing a beat, his dad helped him up onto Betsy’s back, and that’s when Rowan began to speak for the first time. A lightbulb went on in my head,” his dad recalls from the experience. It was a moment that would change the lives of the Isaacson family forever.
He now knew exactly how to help his son. Rupert and Kristin packed up their things and traveled all the way to Mongolia on a spiritual journey that would not only affect Rowan’s health but their own as well. They put their faith in the power of horse therapy, hoping to find a way to connect with their son. And, miraculously, it did. As they traveled, Rowan’s mom reflected on the stigma that exists in today’s world toward autism, saying, “I wonder how useful it is to think of us as normal and Rowan as the sick one.”