It is believed that animal assisted therapy has a calming effect for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Reported by the American Pets Products Association, in the U.S. alone 95.6 million people own cats and 83.3 million people in the own dogs. Highly encouraged, research indicates that elderly people who owns animal report being happier. Individuals with autism have shown animals to have favorable effects as well. A wide range of animals, including dogs, horses, alpacas, and dolphins are being used in animal-assisted therapy programs. All of these therapeutic programs are based on interaction enabling children with autism learn to step out of their comfort zone to try something new, de-stress, trust, decrease inappropriate behavior, care for another living creature, and communicate.
There are even additional vocational components with some of the animal-assisted therapy programs available. For example, instructional workshops in fiber arts are being offered by Alpacas for Autism. Through sell the woven goods made from Alpaca fur, this Missouri based association offers marketing and sales services for the products made on their alpaca ranch which provides an added bonus for adults with autism; a viable source of income and a career.
One grandmother, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained that her granddaughter who has autism cherishes her therapy, “Wiggles goes everywhere with Katy. He accompanies her to school, lies next to her on the floor during her therapies, even goes to the doctor with her. When Katy is stressed out and having a crisis, Wiggles helps to soothe her by putting his head in her lap. Therapy dogs are amazingly sensitive and beautifully trained creatures”
Dolphin Therapy is another animal-assisted therapy, which is shows to be fun for the child and relaxing . One father who also wishes to remain anonymous, stated that his son with autism loved making contact with the dolphins. His family traveled to Israel from France for the Dolphin Therapy experience. Aware that more scientific research on Dolphin Therapy is needed to explain its effects, he noted that when in the water with the dolphins his son expressed himself more vocally and was calmer for days after the therapy more so than normal.
For more information on Animal Therapy, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/animals-2/