What is Animal Assisted Therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy is a therapeutic method that includes animals such as dogs, cats, pigs, horses and birds, into a plan of treatment. It is usually coupled with occupational therapy and aims to enhance or complement its gains.
You may have noticed your child with autism having difficulty in connecting to or forming a bond with his/her peers, due to a lack of social skills. Animals make great companions in such cases, giving children an opportunity to connect with another being. This companionship plays a key role in the child’s overall development.
Children with ASD often face difficulty in focusing or responding to sensory stimuli, and communicating with others, all of which have been shown to improve after undergoing AAT.
Another developing area in the field of AAT is the ongoing research on the use of dolphins to benefit children with autism. This is called Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT). DAT can be used to improve motor skills and speech. It is now being used for children with speech deficits, learning disabilities, autism, Down’s syndrome and other developmental issues.