Ten children with autism, aged 7–10, attended 14 individual sessions of social interaction therapy. A group-comparison design was adopted. Comparing two interventions, matching and random assignment were used to form the experimental group (Animal-Assisted Play Therapy with a therapy dog) and the comparison group (an identical play therapy procedure using a doll as the dog surrogate). The within-group results using nonparametric tests showed that verbal social behavior increased significantly in the experimental group. Although the magnitude of this increase was not significantly larger than that in the comparison group, the preliminary findings suggested that the therapy dog had a positive impact on language output. The results are discussed in terms of the role that a therapy dog can fulfill as a “Speech Elicitor” for children with autism. Copyright © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
CitationFung, S. C., & Leung, A. S.-m. (2014). Pilot study investigating the role of therapy dogs in facilitating social interaction among children with autism. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 44(4), 253-262.
- Structured play
- Animal-assisted therapy
- Animal-assisted play therapy
- Social interaction