The Effects of Animal-Assisted Interventions in Children with Autism: Could a Furry Friend Help?
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe aim of this study was to test the effects of animal-assisted interventions on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the areas of requesting, facial expressions, and social initiation. The 9 participants in this study were first screened for fear of animals, allergies to animals, and mobility impairments that would make it impossible to interact with a dog. They were then asked to attend 8 weekly play sessions, 4 weeks would be with a dog and 4 weeks would be with a human proxy. Throughout the study, coders would observe the participants and code for requesting, facial expressions, and initiation of social interaction. We found that appropriate requesting began sooner when the participants were exposed to a dog. We also found that smiling spiked in week 4 with the dog, and other facial expressions decreased drastically throughout the entire four weeks with the dog. Interestingly, we also saw a major decrease in social initiation when exposed to both the dog and the proxy that could be due to error. Although the data looks promising, 8 weeks may not have been enough time to ensure that these changes were due to the dog's presence.
Degree ProgramHonors College