Animal-assisted Therapy

Is An Animal Assisted Therapy Effective With Children With Autism?

Animal-assisted therapy, a complementary treatment, can treat a wide range of neurodevelopmental and emotional disorders, including autism. Results show that post-treatment children exhibited a livelier mood, were more focused, and became aware of the social environment. These positive outcomes indicate that interaction with animals in an animal assisted therapy for autism has specific benefits for the population with special needs. 

Animal-assisted therapy is different from using the services of the animals for comforting patients in the hospital. These animals are trained to assist the individual with autism for 24X7 and to alert them or the family members about signs of seizures, ease them when they throw tantrums and also stop for interrupting repetitive activities.

In animal-assisted therapy for autism, therapists involve domestic animals such as dogs, cats, horses and also dolphins as a part of their treatment plan. They encourage the children to talk with the animals to help them learn communication skills.

Animal-assisted Service


Service animals, like dogs, play a helpful role in the life of an individual with autism during and also after the therapy sessions. They provide daily assistance, support and perform many other services, such as opening or closing the door, picking up or bringing things (medicine or a drink) to the individuals who are wheelchair-bound and to assist those with limited mobility. These animals are specially trained to meet the needs of the individual’s own set of challenges.

Many individuals with autism wander away from home or school and sometimes meet with tragic results. A service dog can help is such a situation by responding to the command of the parents in keeping vigilant on them. They follow the individuals to make sure that they do not wander away from a safe area. Even at home, the dogs provide a ‘second set of eyes’, alerting the parents or the caregivers whenever an emergency arises.  

When the dog sleeps with the individual, their deep body pressure helps them to feel more relaxed and calm. They fall asleep more easily.  


Horseback riding provides a therapeutic touch that focuses on enhancing physical abilities like the trunk and head control. Horseback riding showed improvement in emotional expression, eye contact, sensory sensitivity, social motivation, attention span, etc., in individuals with autism. With therapeutic horseback riding, they exhibited less irritable, spoke more words, and revealed other improvements compared to those who did not enroll in the riding sessions.

Romping with a puppy or riding a horse can improve physical, mental, and social difficulties in individuals with autism. This specific intervention that involves the unconditional love of animals provides substantial benefits to people with different kinds of conditions and needs. The idea behind animal assisted therapy for autism is to create a human-animal bonding to provide a calm atmosphere and also to create a source to recognize the importance of relationship in the family.  

Parents interested in animal-assisted therapy for a child with autism can visit Autism Connect to find an animal-assisted therapist.

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