K-9 PALS: PROVIDING AUTISM LEARNING SUPPORT
1 University of South Florida (UNITED STATES)
2 Clemson University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The overall objective of the project was to investigate the use of therapy dogs to teach children with autism pro-social skills. The investigators collaborated with three special education teachers while implementing their social skills curriculum. The co-investigators brought the therapy dog into the three classrooms twice a week for seven months, with one managing the dog while the other recorded data on the frequency of inappropriate student behavior: physical and verbal aggression, stereotypical behavior and non-compliance. Our hypothesis maintained that teaching pro-social skills with the use of a therapy dog would result in the decrease of inappropriate behaviors. The study produced mixed results due to limiting factors, such as limited baseline, the exclusion of data from two classrooms due to outside extenuating circumstances. The effect size was minimal for physical and verbally aggressive behaviors. Both stereotypical and noncompliant behaviors showed a moderate effect size. The investigators conclude that the use of a therapy dog in classrooms for students with autism requires additional research with the insights gained from this study to guide future projects. Additional insights about implementation, maintenance and teacher characterisitcs important to sustaining a therapy dog will be shared.
Keywords: Therapy dog, autism.