Animal Assisted Intervention Summary

Animal-assisted interventions have also been proposed as a method to improve social interactions and communication skills in children with autism. Supporters of animals improving social competencies find that children have a natural connection with animals that may help to facilitate commination skills, which are often a difficult skill to target in children with ASD. Solomon (2015) advocates for the inclusion of the animal in structured interactions with the child, because “there are indications that some people diagnosed with ASD ‘are’ more companion-able and more response-able when their interactions with animals are enfolded into interactions with people” (p. 327). She describes these structured interactions for children with ASD through …show more content…
A review of current evidence on therapy dogs for children with autism by Berry, Borgi, Francia, Alleva, and Cirulli (2013) found that numerous studies report improvements in the child’s social functioning, motor skills, calmness, and language after the introduction of the therapy dog. They reported that several of the studies found that children were more likely to communicate with other children and adults when the dog was present. The authors conclude that these findings are promising, but they cautioned that more studies must be performed with more robust designs. There are also physiological indicators that animals may reduce the stress of social situations for children with autism. A skin conductance study by O’Haire et al. (2015) finds that companion animals may act as a “social buffer” for children with autism resulting in decreased social stress and anxious arousal. They found that children with ASD displayed higher skin conductance during numerous activities than their typically developing peers, except when the animals were present. There was a reduction in their skin conductance responses by 43% during free time with the

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