Authors: Jessica Hill, Jenny Ziviani, Judy Cawdell-Smith, Carlie Driscoll
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by difficulties with communication, social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviours. For children with this disorder, the ability to engage with people and activities, and to participate in everyday occupations is compromised. Animal assisted therapy has been proposed as an intervention modality to facilitate development of an individual’s social behaviours such as engagement and attention. In spite of the increasing evidence showing the positive impact animal assisted therapy can have for children on the autism spectrum, there remain no universal standards or formalised guidelines for ethical practice with either the clients or the therapy dogs involved. The proposed pilot randomised control trial aims to determine the impact of canine assisted occupational therapy on the on-task behaviours and overall goal attainment of children on the autism spectrum, as well as consider the impact that being involved within therapy sessions has on the therapy dog.
See also: Comments to Paper