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Title: The behaviour of children with special needs : effects of animal-assisted activities
Author: Limond, Jennifer Alison
ISNI:       0000 0001 3610 247X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 1998
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The effects of animal-assisted activities (AAA) on the behaviour of children and young adults with special needs have been recorded, and compared with the effects of similar activities that did not involve a live animal. With the exception of one study of children with Cerebral Palsy, all participants attended special schools, residential centres or day centres for those with severe learning disabilities, and several had been more specifically diagnosed as also suffering from autism or Down's syndrome. Several experimental designs were employed in order to establish the value of different methods of AAA and to assess possible influences of methodology on the detection of both general and individual-specific effects. In the first study interactive behaviours displayed during AAA were found to be qualitatively and quantitatively different when compared with other activities directed by the same adult. Specifically, the real dog increased appropriate responses and initiations about itself and reduced levels of ignoring the adult that was guiding activities compared to an imitation (toy) dog of similar appearance. In a second study cooperative behaviour during educational tasks was enhanced through dog involvement compared to standard educational tools, and the level of dog involvement was thought to be a factor in differences between activities. High levels of dog involvement were also found to encourage children with Cerebral Palsy to perform physical exercises, but the use of the dog as a reward was less effective. Five single-case research studies supported the findings of the first two studies, and provided additional information describing idiosyncratic reactions to AAA. Specific behaviours, identified as needing to be encouraged or reduced prior to the study were to a large extent successfully targeted through individually designed programmes. Some individuals appeared to benefit more than others; additionally withdrawal of dog sessions was identified as a potential source of stress for the participants. Cooperative and appropriate behaviour was enhanced for all participants and some problem behaviours (where apparent) were reduced. General effects of cooperation and responding to the adults directing the activities, were shown through increases in physical and/or communicative responses.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cerebral Palsy; Autism; Down's syndrome