Aspen Brain Lab

The only conference where neurology lectures and laughter meditation sessions live together in perfect harmony

Sheryl Barto


Sheryl Barto

Special needs mom, business owner, and equine professional, Sheryl Barto co-founded Smiling Goat Ranch in Carbondale in 2015, along with her attorney/rancher husband, Karl Hanlon.

She combined her experience as an autism mom, horsewoman and PR professional to start Smiling Goat Ranch using horses, movement and the natural environment to help children autism and veterans with PTSD. 

Using the Horse Boy Method– the only equine therapy that really works for the brain and nervous system –   which was devised by both adult autists themselves and neuro-scientists from Europe and the USA.  The method now serves tens of thousands of families in more than 20 countries. It is the cutting edge in equine therapy for not just autism but for ADD, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, depression, borderline and most other neuro-sensory diagnoses.

Through years of observation and experimentation, and now confirmed by neuroscientists, if you set up a more autism friendly - aka sensory friendly - learning environment, and allow the child the freedom to move within this environment you will cancel out this stress and open the child up to learning in ways that can be astonishing.

Sheryl has taken this work with horses and autism to also help veterans suffering from the tragic reality of PTSD.  Through sensory work – body-to-body on the horse – veterans experience direct work on their own sensory systems. Also movement on horseback reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Recent studies show PTSD symptoms, in a flight or fight mode like an autist’s brain, plummets dramatically after just six weeks of consistent equine sensory sessions.

With her legion of amazing volunteers and four-legged team of horses, dogs, goats, and rabbits, Smiling Goat Ranch offers a natural environment for healing.

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