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Interaction with a therapy dog enhances the effects of social story method in autistic children

By A. A. Grigore, A. S. Rusu

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Abstract

This study explored the effects of a combination between two methods that have proved to enhance the social abilities of autistic children - Social Story and Animal Assisted Therapy. The main hypothesis of this investigation was that a naturally enriched social environment (i.e., the presence of a therapy dog) improves the effectiveness of Social Story method. Two social skills were targeted: (1) the ability to greet a social partner and (2) the ability to introduce oneself to a social partner, by using a standard single-subject research design. Three preschool autistic children were included in the study. The dependent variables were the frequency of the appropriate social interactions relevant to the target social skill, the level of prompt needed to provide the expected social response, and the frequency of social initiations. The presence of the therapy dog while reading the social story increased the frequency of social initiations and decreased the level of social prompt needed to elicit social responses from children with autism.

Publication Title Society & Animals
Volume 22
Issue 3
Pages 241-261
ISBN/ISSN 1063-1119
DOI 10.1163/15685306-12341326
Language English
Author Address Research Department of Autism, Transilvania Association, Gheorghe, Marinescu, Romania.alina.rusu@ubbcluj.ro
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Tags
  1. Animals
  2. Autism
  3. Balkans
  4. Canidae
  5. Canine
  6. Carnivores
  7. Children
  8. Developed countries
  9. Dogs
  10. Europe
  11. Humans
  12. Mammals
  13. Men
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. preschools
  16. Primates
  17. Relationships
  18. Romania
  19. Social behavior
  20. therapy
  21. vertebrates
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  1. peer-reviewed