Understanding autism
Understanding autism

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Understanding autism

7.5 Evaluations of animal-assisted interventions

A recent scientific overview of animal-based interventions in autism, while recognising that they may be beneficial for some children, concluded that the evidence is as yet unclear. Interpretation of studies is complicated by factors such as small participant numbers, and variations in the animals, procedures, duration of therapy and outcome measures (O’Haire, 2013).

Activity 5 Considering animal-assisted interventions

Allow about 15 minutes

Draw on the interview with Arabella and the Research Autism website to note two arguments in favour of animal-based intervention and two against. You should look up Research Autism entries for equine and dolphin therapies and assistance dogs.

You can type text here, but this facility requires a free OU account. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

Points in favour:

  1. Arabella suggests that contact with a cat helped Iris to overcome some sensory problems and other anxieties e.g. about travel.
  2. The good relationship between Thula and Iris provided important respite for her parents.

Points against:

  1. Some animal-based approaches such as swimming with dolphins could be harmful for the animal and harmful or frightening for the child.
  2. Some improvements attributed to an animal like Thula may have taken place anyway. Since supportive evidence is so far sparse, the expense and effort of animal-based intervention may not be justified.
AUT_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus