Animal Assisted Intervention Essay

791 Words 4 Pages
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…
O’Haire, McKenzie, McCune, and Slaughter (2013) performed a study where children participated with two guinea pigs in the classroom for three 10-minute sessions, while having another group of children simply playing with toys. They measured both social approach behaviors and the amount of social approaches that the child received. They found that the children with ASD with the animal presented more social approach behaviors, but also was approached more than the children playing with the toys. This is also supported by a study performed by Fung and Leung (2014), which examined children with autism’s interaction with either a dog or a stuffed animal dog. They found a significant increase in the verbal social behavior of children in the group of children who interacted with dogs. A later study by O’Haire et al. (2014) examined the integration of guinea pigs into the classroom and found significant improvements in the participant’s social approach behaviors and social skills and a decrease in the children’s social withdrawal …show more content…
The question then becomes if interventions should include “social buffers” for children with autism, rather than teaching them skills that can improve their social competencies. A study by Lanning, Matyastik-Baier, Ivey-Hatz, Krenek, and Tubbs (2014) measured changes in quality of life for participants diagnosed with ASD participating in equine-assisted activities for 12-weeks, as compared to children in social activities groups. They found that both children in the social activities group and the EAA group displayed increased quality of life, according to parent reports. However, the children in the social activities group also displayed increased quality of life, so the improvements might not be specific to the animal itself. This may show that social skills interventions can improve children with ASDs social interactions, meaning that the animal is not integral to prompting these outcomes. These findings demonstrate that perhaps interventions should be performed to provide children with ASD opportunities for social interaction, rather than using an external crutch to reduce the stress of these

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