Few things have blossomed as quickly as animal assisted interventions (AAI) have during the past several years. Animal assisted interventions is a broad term which is now widely used to describe the utilisation of various species of animals in diverse manners beneficial to humans. It is always a therapy option for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are different types of AAI such as animal assisted therapy, education and activities. AAI is conducted or delivered by a specialist practitioner together with a trained animal, in conjunction with an education professional, for instance, therapists, teacher, healthcare provider or support worker in order to enhance the improvements of physical, social skills, cognitive functioning and emotional of a person. In short, AAI is actually designed to improve the quality of life and it promotes a range of other than therapeutic or educational benefits. Besides that, AAI may be provided in a variety of setting like in group or individual in nature, or implemented for persons of any age.
The benefits of AAI for people of all ages and in many circumstances are remarkable. Research stated that the presentation of AAI was highly variable across the studies and also the reported outcomes included improvements for multiple areas of functioning known to be impaired in ASD, namely increased social interaction and communication as well as decreased problem behaviors, autistic severity, and stress. Additionally, some literatures suggest that AAI seems to benefit significantly to the old folks, people with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or cancer. Some studies also found that children with autism interact more socially and smile more around animals. This is due to the presence of animals causes people may be more likely to engage socially. Other than that, animals are often sought for the ability to focus attention. For example, one study reported that autistic children looked longer at the faces of dog compared to the faces of humans. Therefore, the presence of animals may be a way to keep a child attentive to the intervention. Most importantly, animals are perceived as providing non-judgmental companionship. This component of AAI is particularly essential to autistic children that are commonly at a higher risk for stress and bullying by peers, especially during the school age years.
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