Exploring the Impacts of Animal-Assisted Interventions on Therapy Farms for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Jacobson, Lisa
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Animal-assisted intervention is growing in popularity as a complementary intervention to treating various mental health concerns. While many researchers have found evidence to support the benefits of animal involvement (Byström et al., 2019; Shotwell & Wagner, 2019), little is known about specific animal species targeting particular outcomes. For example, animals have been identified as providing a source of comfort and social engagement in children with autism spectrum disorder. However, there is limited knowledge about the concept of including multiple animal species, more specifically farm animals, to achieve amplified outcomes to improve multiple targeted behaviours. This literature review examines the current research to determine which farm animals have been identified to benefit or improve symptoms of psychological concern in children who have symptoms relating to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The literature (Santaniello et al., 2020) reveals that with a clear understanding of the terminology of how animals are included in the therapeutic setting, professionals can develop theories to guide industry best practices to ensure efficacy in interventions, safety for clients, therapists, and animals, and practice standards for training and supervision. Increasing the understanding of how animals can humanely assist the therapist in positively influencing therapy is beneficial to the client and the therapist while still respecting the rights and wellbeing of the animal.
autism spectrum disorder , therapy farms , children , animal-assisted