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Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Therapeutic Animals

Tammi Reynolds, BA & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA

dog Dogs and horses are sometimes used to compliment therapy for people with autism spectrum disorder. Therapists work their objectives and goals for therapy into children's interactions with animals. For example, animals may be incorporated into sensory integration activities. Working with animals during therapy has been found to be calming and motivating for people with autism spectrum disorder. Animals also hold children's attention wonderfully well.

Dogs and horses are the most commonly chosen therapeutic animals for autism spectrum disorder work, although from time to time, cats are used as suits the needs of individual children and families. Dolphins have also been used therapeutically, although this usage is controversial. Dolphin therapy is very expensive and there is little or no evidence to suggest that there is any benefit to be had from a dolphin that cannot be gained from a dog or a horse.