Animals may act as social buffers: Skin conductance arousal in children with autism spectrum disorder in a social context

O'Haire, Marguerite E, Mckenzie, Samantha J, Beck, Alan M and Slaughter, Virginia (2015) Animals may act as social buffers: Skin conductance arousal in children with autism spectrum disorder in a social context. Developmental Psychobiology, 57 5: 584-595. doi:10.1002/dev.21310


Author O'Haire, Marguerite E
Mckenzie, Samantha J
Beck, Alan M
Slaughter, Virginia
Title Animals may act as social buffers: Skin conductance arousal in children with autism spectrum disorder in a social context
Journal name Developmental Psychobiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1098-2302
Publication date 2015-04-27
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/dev.21310
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 57
Issue 5
Start page 584
End page 595
Total pages 12
Place of publication Hoboken, United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Language eng
Subject 1309 Developmental Biology
2802 Behavioral Neuroscience
2806 Developmental Neuroscience
3204 Developmental and Educational Psychology
Abstract Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience high rates of social stress and anxious arousal. Preliminary evidence suggests that companion animals can act as buffers against the adverse effects of social stress in adults. We measured continuous physiological arousal in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children in a social context during four conditions: (a) a baseline of reading silently, (b) a scripted classroom activity involving reading aloud, (c) free play with peers and toys, and (d) free play with peers and animals (guinea pigs). Our results confirmed heightened arousal among children with ASD compared to TD children in all conditions, except when the animals were present. Children with ASD showed a 43% decrease in skin conductance responses during free play with peers in the presence of animals, compared to toys. Thus, animals may act as social buffers for children with ASD, conferring unique anxiolytic effects.
Keyword Animal-assisted intervention
Arousal
Autism spectrum disorder
Children
Classroom
Electrodermal activity
Guinea pigs
Human-animal interaction
Skin conductance
Social anxiety
Social buffer
Typical development
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
School of Psychology Publications
 
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