Autism has been highlighted as a pressing public health issue that may be ameliorated through the inclusion of animals in autism treatment services, also known as animal-assisted intervention. Over the past 20 years, only a few studies have empirically examined the impact of therapeutic interactions with animals for individuals with autism. A review of the existing literature indicates that incorporating animals into autism treatment practices may provide a motivating stimulus for individuals with autism to enhance social functioning. However, more rigorous investigation is critical before widespread implementation can be adopted. In this review, I explore the current literature on animal-assisted intervention for autism, synthesise relevant findings for clinical practice and present targeted directions for future research.
Research suggests positive social functioning outcomes for some children with autism following human-animal interaction. The use of animal-assisted intervention and service animals appear to provide a valuable addition to current autism treatment practices and therefore are worthy of further investigation.
|Publication Title||OA Autism|
|Publisher||OA Publishing (London)|
|Author Address||School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia Email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
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