Poor knowledge is available on the effectiveness of reading to dogs in educational settings, particularly in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In this study, we test the hypothesis that reading to a dog improves propensity towards books and motivation to read after the end of the programme, as well as reading and cognitive skills in children with ASD. The study is a prospective, randomized controlled trial, consisting of testing and re-testing after a 10 sessions reading programme with and without the presence of a dog. Nine Children with ASD (6–11 years old) were randomly assigned to a control (CG, reading without a dog, n. 4) or experimental group (EG, reading to a dog, n. 5). Children’s attendance at reading sessions was recorded at each session. Parents’ perceptions were evaluated at the end of the programme to detect changes in children’s attitudes and motivation toward reading. Psychologist-administered validated reading (Cornoldi’s MT2 reading test; test of reading comprehension, TORC; metaphonological competence test, MCF) and cognitive tests (Wechsler intelligence scale for children Wisc IV, Vineland) to all children, at baseline and at the end of the reading programme. Compared with CG children, children in the EG group participated more frequently in the reading sessions, and they were reported to be more motivated readers at home after the programme. However, there were no differences on reading and cognitive tests’ scores either within each group of children or between groups. Further studies are warranted in order to understand whether and how incorporating dogs into a reading programme is beneficial to Children with ASD at the socio-emotional and cognitive level.
|Cite this work||
Researchers should cite this work as follows: