Approximately 1 in 68 children in the United States has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 2014). There is no cure for ASD; therefore, current treatment efforts focus on behavior management and social skill development. The inclusion of animals in ASD treatment has been suggested as an effective way to enhance social functioning and to ameliorate social stress and anxiety.
Nearly one in four children with ASD has participated in some form of Animal-Assisted Intervention (Christon, Mackintosh, & Myers, 2010). This practice is currently being used by psychologists, social workers, and occupational therapists who treat ASD. A variety of animal species participate, including dogs, horses, and small animals such as guinea pigs. Yet despite the prevalence of Animal-Assisted Intervention for ASD, the empirical study of its use is only just emerging. This brief summarizes the latest literature on animals and autism, with an overview of currently documented outcomes as well as gaps in knowledge for further research.
|Series Title||HABRI Central Briefs|