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West J Nurs Res. 2002 Oct;24(6):657-70.

Animal-assisted therapy for children with pervasive developmental disorders.

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College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, USA.


The present study quantitatively evaluated the effects of interaction with dogs on children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), disorders characterized by lack of social communications and abilities. While interacting with a therapist, children were exposed to three different conditions: (a) a nonsocial toy (ball), (b) a stuffed dog, and (c) a live dog. Prosocial and nonsocial interactions were evaluated in terms of both behavioral and verbal dimensions. Results show that children exhibited a more playful mood, were more focused, and were more aware of their social environments when in the presence of a therapy dog. These findings indicate that interaction with dogs may have specific benefits for this population and suggest that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) may be an appropriate forrm of therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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