Animal Assisted Therapy in the Classroom

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Animal Assisted Therapy in the ClassroomAnimals enrich the classroom experience and stimulate learning; the presence of animals allows the students to be curious and ask questions. They help build their self-esteem and learn responsibility and empathy for everyone and everything around them. Kids turn to their pets for emotional well being or when feeling lonely, scared, tired, or upset (Schultze, 2006).

Research has shown that the presence of an assisted therapy dog in the classroom can help children improve in reading and speech, and in children with ADHD who have difficulty sitting still, interacting with a dog allowed them to read for short uninterrupted periods of fifteen minutes.  (Emmert & Gonzales, 2012).

On an emotional level the presence of a dog in the classroom helps students cope with emotional behaviors such as; fear, anger, stress, anxiety (Beetz, 2012), and act as an aid to help teach life skills (Schultze, 2006). In children who have autism, interaction with ATD has helped them improve their focus and attention, their communication skills, improved body awareness, coordination and learning.

Animal assisted Therapy

“Research over the past 30 years indicates that therapy dogs may offer physiological, emotional, social, and physical support for children (Schultze, 2006). A study conducted by Friesen, (2009) and Emmert &Gonzales (2012) in a classroom setting with an ATD found that children could express themselves easier and had improved self-esteem and confidence.

Therapy dogs can help autistic children bond with humans (Taziki, 2012). OHaire states “Children with autism engaged in 55 percent more social behaviours when they were with animals, compared to toys,”(Pearson, 2013, p.1). Autistic children involved in a curriculum based on animals were able to learn and progress in learning; social skills, sensory awareness, decrease anxiety and improved cognitively  (Taziki, 2012).

Chantale Robinson


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