Social behaviors increase in children with autism in the presence of animals compared to toys

O'Haire, Marguerite E., McKenzie, Samantha J., Beck, Alan M. and Slaughter, Virginia (2013) Social behaviors increase in children with autism in the presence of animals compared to toys. PLoS One, 8 2: e57010.1-e57010.10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057010


Author O'Haire, Marguerite E.
McKenzie, Samantha J.
Beck, Alan M.
Slaughter, Virginia
Title Social behaviors increase in children with autism in the presence of animals compared to toys
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2013-02-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0057010
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue 2
Start page e57010.1
End page e57010.10
Total pages 10
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Subject 2700 Medicine
1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Abstract Background: Previous research has demonstrated the capacity of animal presence to stimulate social interaction among humans. The purpose of this study was to examine the interactions of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with an adult and their typically-developing peers in the presence of animals (two guinea pigs) compared to toys.
Formatted abstract
Background: Previous research has demonstrated the capacity of animal presence to stimulate social interaction among humans. The purpose of this study was to examine the interactions of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with an adult and their typically-developing peers in the presence of animals (two guinea pigs) compared to toys.

Methods: Ninety-nine children from 15 classrooms in 4 schools met the inclusion criteria and participated in groups of three (1 child with ASD and 2 typically-developing peers). Each group was video-recorded during three 10-minute, free-play sessions with toys and three 10-minute, free-play sessions with two guinea pigs. Two blinded observers coded the behavior of children with ASD and their peers. To account for the nested study design, data were analyzed using hierarchical generalized linear modeling.

Results: Participants with ASD demonstrated more social approach behaviors (including talking, looking at faces, and making tactile contact) and received more social approaches from their peers in the presence of animals compared to toys. They also displayed more prosocial behaviors and positive affect (i.e., smiling and laughing) as well as less self-focused behaviors and negative affect (i.e., frowning, crying, and whining) in the presence of animals compared to toys.

Conclusions:
These results suggest that the presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with ASD.
Keyword Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Spectrum Disorder
Young-Children
Communication Questionnaire
Human Health
Teachers
Students
Therapy
Interventions
Friendship
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID R03HD070683
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article number e57010

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
School of Psychology Publications
 
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