The Efficacy of Animal Assisted Therapy in a Residential Setting for People with Autism

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal meeting specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. Animal Assisted Therapy is a unique approach to the field of mental health including a secondary therapist that is a living animal but not human. Moreover, studies in the medical field show that Animal Assisted Therapy lowers blood pressure and increases longevity to elderly people. Autism is a group of developmental brain disorders with a wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment that generally fall into these categories: social impairment, communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors. Animal Assisted Therapy’s unique approach reaches into these challenge areas and provides a safe and empowering experience for learning and growth. This project discusses how Animal Assisted Therapy proves to be an effective treatment for a person diagnosed with Autism. Furthermore, it explores a new innovative residential program combining traditional group home procedures with Animal Assisted Therapies for people with Autism.

Beth McNally
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