Fact or fiction: Does having a pet impact the expressive language and social skills of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Various interventions are currently being used by health professionals working with children with autism. Over the last fifty years research into Animal Assisted Therapy has grown significantly. Over the past twenty years research has begun into the impacts that Animal Assisted Therapy could have on children with autism. This research has shown improvements in many areas associated with being core deficits in autism such as topic maintenance, eye contact, joint attention, initiating conversations and more. The current study aims to compare the social skills and expressive language of a child with autism when in the presence of his pet, and when the pet is not present. A conversation analysis methodology was used to consider both the verbal and non verbal behaviours of both interlocutors during these interactions. Analysis showed that for this child a larger vocabulary was used and joint attention was maintained for longer when the pet was present. An interesting dynamic was observed during the activity without the pet whereby the child seemed to take on the role of the pet in the interaction. Suggestions for further research were made and the potential implications for SLTs were discussed.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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