Animal-Assisted Therapy for Autism

How Does Animal Therapy Work?

Animal-assisted therapy is a therapeutic intervention that integrates animals, such as equines, pet dogs, cats, pigs, and birds, into the treatment strategy. More and more often, research studies are suggesting that pets can have a huge impact on the life of an individual with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The presence of animals can create a sense of tranquility, safety, and help to redirect focus away from the stress that a social situation can cause. Advocates of animal therapy state that establishing a bond with a pet can assist people create a far better feeling of self-respect as well as count on, support their emotions, and also boost their communication, self-regulation, and socialization abilities.

ASD-therapy canines are especially trained to assist people that have problems related to ASD. These pets can enhance their guardian’s communication skills, oversee his or her safety and security, and can even work as an ‘ice breaker’ in a social situation. Therapy animals help individuals with autism battle sensations of isolation, anxiousness, anxiety, and also fear that many individuals with an ASD experience in their daily lives. Moreover, these pets have the capability to comfort their guardians throughout demanding minutes of the day.

Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy

Pets are regarded as providing nonjudgmental friendship. They can play several roles in the life of a person that is unwell or living with a handicap, from brightening their day to safeguarding them from injury.

Animal therapy can:

  • Ease physical discomfort.
  • Soothe the psychologically distressed.
  • Help with the development of coordination & motor skills.
  • Decrease sensory level of sensitivity.
  • Bring heart rate and blood pressure down.
  • Help to minimize negative behaviors that result from the stress of social interactions.
  • Raise the need and also capability to link socially with others.

Considering the wide array of benefits that animal therapy can provide, it is not unexpected that there are animal visitation & treatment programs being utilized by everyone from kids to senior citizens, as well as in a variety of settings, from nursing residences to medical facilities to prisons. Consequently, animal-assisted therapy is becoming a new area, and also among passion to both medical and psychological wellness professionals.

A Growing Number of Research Studies Support the Benefits of Animal Therapy for Autism

In the 1800’s, Florence Nightingale, the owner of contemporary nursing, believed that “a little pet animal is often a superb friend for the sick, for long, persistent cases particularly. A pet bird in a cage is often the only enjoyment of someone who is constrained for several years to a small space. If he or she can feed as well as clean up the animal themselves, they ought constantly to be urged to do so.”

In the 1970s, researcher and psychologist David Nathanson began to look into just how interactions with dolphins impacted handicapped children. His study suggested that being around dolphins might boost a child’s interest in their environment, improve their cognitive abilities, help them learn more quickly, and also mentally preserve important details for longer periods of time.

Years later, researchers are continuing to investigate the feasible benefits of animal-human interaction, including pet ownership, pet visitation programs, as well as real animal-assisted therapy. There have been research studies claiming animal-human encounters can lessen perception of physical pain and that animal-human communication can decrease agitation and hostility.

Research also suggests that pets can act as a ‘social lubricant,’ easing the uncomfortableness that an individual may feel in a social situation & increasing their likelihood of engaging socially. This effect might attend to the social difficulties that individuals with autism face in their daily lives.

A recent research study published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research examined the effects of interaction of pets on youngsters with autism spectrum problems. For the study, children were shown a ball, a stuffed canine, or an online canine under the guidance of a therapist. The kids who spent time with the online dog remained in an improved state of mind and even more aware of & interactive with their surroundings than the kids who were subjected to the round or packed canine.

Different Types of Animal-Assisted Therapy

  • Service Pets are generally pet dogs of specific breeds that are most generally chosen to be trained for service. These animals work with kids and adults with autism to calm their emotions, help them navigate safely through the environment, and prevent unfavorable communications. Since service animals are highly educated “experts” in their field, they can carry a steep price, but there is plenty of funding available for those who are in need of this type of pet.
  • Treatment or Therapy Animals might be any type of types; pet cats, pets, Test subject, parrots, horses, and several other pets can assist people with autism to develop social communication skills, manage their emotions, and (for youngsters) develop play skills. Therapy animals are additionally made use of to support positive social communications with normal peers.
  • Emotional support animals are commonly family pets. They are pets that make it easier for an autistic person to handle the stress of situations such as medical interventions, travel, or attending college.
  • Family Pets provide a unique type of social bond for many individuals with autism. Research studies support the theory that the presence of animals, not necessarily just therapy or emotional support pets, promote “prosocial” habits such as shared interactions and smiles.
  • Hippotherapy or Equine Therapy is a one-of-a-kind animal-assisted therapy in a number of ways. Not only has it been examined a lot more intensively than various other types of pet treatment, yet it can support both physical as well as social/emotional abilities. Additionally, naturally, coming to be a skilled horseback cyclist has numerous various other long-term social as well as physical benefits.
  • Dolphin Therapy has also been studied over the years and shown that it can provides numerous benefits as well. The downside with this form of treatment is that although individuals with autism may have a positive experience with the dolphins, the animals themselves can be extremely stressed out by the experience. Additionally, this form of animal therapy tends to be the most expensive and is not always a positive experience because of the stress involved for the animal.

Animals as well as emotional support pets can be found in all parts of the world, whether at your local pet rescue shelter or at a family pet shop. The important part is finding a pet that your child is likely to bond with.

Learn About Animal-Assisted Therapy at Enrichment Intervention Family Center

Curious about whether or not animal-assisted therapy is a good choice for your loved one? At EIFC, we can help point you in the right direction. Give us a call at (877) 360-3432 or send us an email at today to speak to a member of our experienced Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) team.