Effects of classroom animal-assisted activities on social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder

O'Haire, Marguerite, McKenzie, Samantha J., McCune, Sandra and Slaughter, Virginia (2014) Effects of classroom animal-assisted activities on social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20 3: 162-168. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0165


Author O'Haire, Marguerite
McKenzie, Samantha J.
McCune, Sandra
Slaughter, Virginia
Title Effects of classroom animal-assisted activities on social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder
Journal name Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1557-7708
1075-5535
Publication date 2014-03-05
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1089/acm.2013.0165
Volume 20
Issue 3
Start page 162
End page 168
Total pages 7
Place of publication New Rochelle, NY, United States
Publisher Mary Ann Liebert
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objective: The objective of this study was to implement and evaluate a classroom-based Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) program on social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Design: This was a multisite, control-to-intervention design study.

Settings/location:
The study was conducted in 41 classrooms in 15 schools in Brisbane, Australia.

Subjects: Sixty-four (64) 5- to 12-year-old children diagnosed with ASD comprised the study group.

Intervention: The AAA program consisted of 8 weeks of animal exposure in the school classroom in addition to 16 20-minute animal-interaction sessions.

Outcome measures: Teacher- and parent-reported child behavior and social functioning were assessed through standardized instruments at three time points: upon study entry (Time 1), after an 8-week waiting period during the week prior to the AAA program (Time 2), and during the week following the 8-week AAA program (Time 3).

Results: Significant improvements were identified in social functioning, including increases in social approach behaviors and social skills, and decreases in social withdrawal behaviors, from before to after the AAA program, but not during the waitlist period. Over half of parents also reported that participants demonstrated an increased interest in attending school during the program.

Conclusions: Results demonstrate the feasibility and potential efficacy of a new classroom-based Animal-Assisted Activities model, which may provide a relatively simple and cost-effective means of helping educators and families to improve the social functioning of children with ASD.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 24 October 2013.

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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Created: Tue, 25 Mar 2014, 23:18:24 EST by Mrs Alison Pike on behalf of School of Psychology