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Effects of Dog Assisted Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Trial.

Authors
  • Wijker, Carolien1, 2
  • Leontjevas, Ruslan3, 4
  • Spek, Annelies5
  • Enders-Slegers, Marie-Jose3
  • 1 GGZ Oost Brabant, P.O. Box 3, 5427 ZG, Boekel, The Netherlands. [email protected] , (Netherlands)
  • 2 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands. [email protected] , (Netherlands)
  • 3 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 4 Department of Primary and Community Care, Center for Family Medicine, Geriatric Care and Public Health, Medical Centre, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 5 Autism Center of Expertise, Eemnes, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2020
Volume
50
Issue
6
Pages
2153–2163
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10803-019-03971-9
PMID: 30900194
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Effective treatments of highly prevalent stress-related outcomes such as depression and anxiety are understudied in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A randomized controlled trial with baseline, post-intervention, and 10-week follow-up, that explores the effects of animal assisted therapy (AAT) was conducted. In total, 53 adults with ASD with normal to high intelligence were randomized in an intervention (N = 27) versus waiting list control group (N = 26). The remarkable adherence to the therapy program by study participants and the program's clinically relevant effects indicate that AAT with dogs can be used to reduce perceived stress and symptoms of agoraphobia, and to improve social awareness and communication in adults with ASD with normal to high intelligence.

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