Research: Occupational Therapy Incorporating Animals for Children with Autism: A Pilot Investigation


Authored by Sams, MJ, Fortney EV, and Willenbring S. in American Occupational Therapy Association, Volume 60, Issue 3, p. 269-274, (2006).

Article summary (posted Jan 29, 2007):

Including animals during sensory integration treatment may improve results of the therapy.

In order for sensory integration therapy to be successful, children must be actively playing with the therapist. This study was designed to see if animals could be included in the therapy session in order to motivate and encourage children. The authors found that children played and talked more in the therapy sessions that included animals. This allowed the therapist to focus on activities that challenged the child. The authors point out that the study was not blinded, which means that both the therapists and the children knew why the animals were included in the session.


You can access the original abstract and the complete paper is sometimes available for free via Google Scholar (look for entries that say "PDF" or "HTML" on the right side of the page).

animal-assisted therapy (AAT), autism, occupational therapy (OT), sensory integration, therapist, therapy, treatment