At Evergreen Speech and Hearing, you don’t need to convince us of the beneficial role animals play in child developmental therapy. We see it up close and personal, thanks to our lovable therapy pooch, Ritter. But we’re not the only ones singing the praises of therapy animals. In a presentation offered by Sheila Bernstein, SLP.D., CCC-SLP*, we learn that the human-animal relationship with regards to treating ailments is ages old, and that civilizations like Ancient Greece regularly used animals to aid in healing.
The positive effects of using animals to assist with various therapies can be both physical and psychological. According to Bernstein, ATT (or also known as Animal Assisted Intervention) “is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning—Delta Society.”
Bernstein says that many studies have been conducted to determine the impact of ATT, and that the great majority of these studies are conclusively clear—in both adults and children suffering a multitude of social, physical and psychological disorders, outcomes improved when animals were used in treatment, even in the most severe conditions. Another great example can be found in children with Autism, as communication and eye contact show definite improvements with the incorporation of therapy animals. In addition, therapy animals have been shown to reduce anxiety and hyperactivity in children while increasing their focus. And these benefits are only the tip of the iceberg, as research and therapy methods continue to improve. Sure makes you grateful for those four-legged pals!