eISSN: 2354-0265
ISSN: 2353-6942
Health Problems of Civilization Physical activity: diseases and issues recognised by the WHO
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4/2019
vol. 13
 
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Diseases and problems distinguished by WHO and FAO
abstract:
Original paper

Effects of animal-assisted therapy on parent-reported behaviour and motor activity of children with autism spectrum disorder

Anna Kręgiel
1
,
Kamil Zaworski
1
,
Ewa Kołodziej
2

1.
Pope John Paul II State School of Higher Education in Biała Podlaska, Poland
2.
Neurology Ward with the Sub-Ward for Stroke and the Sub-Ward for Rehabilitation, the Independent Public Health Care Institution in Lubartów, Poland
Health Prob Civil. 2019; 13(4): 273-278
Online publish date: 2019/12/20
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Background
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological disorder characterised by abnormal development noted before three years of age. One of the forms of therapy suggested to children with ASD is animal-assisted therapy (AAT). AAT is a planned and organised therapeutic intervention that aims to improve physical, cognitive, behavioural, and socioemotional performance. The present study examined the effects of AAT on parent reports of their child’s behaviour and motor activity.

Material and methods
The study group consisted of 50 parents (38 females and 12 males) of children diagnosed with ASD and who participated in AAT. All participants resided in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, Poland. A questionnaire was developed for parents for this study that included demographic information, and ten questions regarding the effects of AAT on their child with ASD.

Results
The most commonly reported forms of AAT among parents of children with ASD included canine-assisted therapy and equine-assisted therapy. Parents reported that AAT was associated with more animated gestures (p = 0.01), an increased frequency of verbal reactions (p = 0.02), and an increased frequency of expression of emotions and feelings (p = 0.05) among their children.

Conclusions
According to parents of children with ASD, AAT has positive effects on their child’s emotion-related functioning, motor endurance, balance, and motor skills. However, access to AAT in the Lubelskie Voivodeship is limited.

keywords:

animal assisted therapy, autism, children, knowledge

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