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An Interdisciplinary Approach of Animal Assisted Therapy for the Special Needs Children

By Victor Chitic

Category Conference Papers

The study investigates the dynamic of verbal and non-verbal communication in the context of Animal Assisted Therapy for children with special needs, using ethological and sociometrical methods (i.e. focal individual sampling, ethogram and sequential behavior analysis). The study followed the evolution of a 5-year-old boy with mild mental retardation, ADHD symptoms and a very low level of verbalization, through one year of weekly AAT (dog assisted therapy) sessions. Each session had an average duration of 20 min. Behavioral analysis of the video recorded materials indicated a significant progress in speech development and a decrease of hyperactive symptoms. The implementation of the proposed methods (focal animal sampling and Social Network Analysis) allowed us to objectively analyze the complex interactions between the behavioral sequences, which usually can be very difficult to be extracted in a quantitative manner. The results supported our hypotheses in terms that the complexity of verbal communication increased throughout the five sessions of dog-assisted therapy, which were selected for the behavioral data analysis. Nonverbal communication towards the dog and the handler was also diversified towards the last session.

Date 2016
Edition Volume XVIII
Pages Pages 1- 672
Publisher The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioural Sciences
ISBN/ISSN eISSN 2357 - 1330
Conference Title ERD 2016 : Education, Reflection, Development, Fourth Edition
DOI 1 2. 1 4
Language English
Author Address
  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Dogs
  3. Health
  4. Long-term care facilities
  5. Mammals