It has been shown how interacting and entering into a relationship with an animal generates benefits on different levels and spreads a sense of well-being. That’s why it has been shown that Animal Assisted Therapy has many advantages even on autistic individuals.
Animal do not judge and do not pretend, they relate in a simple and spontaneous way, generating a sense of tranquility and protection and becoming a real therapeutic moment.
What is Pet Therapy
Pet Therapy is a way of supporting the person through the presence of animals during the intervention. It was born for the first time, by chance, in 1953 in the United States, where psychiatrist Boris Levinson noticed the extraordinary relationship established between his dog and one of his patients, an autistic child.
Pet Therapy is a very broad term, which has now become commonly used. Nevertheless the correct expression to indicate these interventions is Animal Assisted Therapy, divided into three different types of support for the person:
– Therapeutic intervention, which includes also healthcare and medical personnel, where the animal has a rehabilitative function.
– Educational intervention, where the advantages are related to learning and education.
– Ludic-recreational intervention, usually in groups and aimed at respecting the world of animals.
The animals certified for Pet Therapy are dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and donkeys.
The advantages of Pet Therapy on autistic people
The benefits that supports with animals can bring to people (children and others) with autism have been proved by several studies. In general, it can be said that Animal Assisted Therapy:
– Improves social skills of individuals with Autism. The presence of an animal creates a positive stimulus, promoting the use of language and improving communication.
– Limits and decreases behaviors that lead to physical and/or verbal aggression.
– Improves and increase the attention span and concentration of the person with Autism.
– Increases the sense of well-being and reduces anxiety and stress, with an improvement in emotionality and a relaxing action.
Animals stimulate the great potential that often remains unexpressed in people with autism, making them more self-confident and making them feel at ease.
Adopting an animal is not Pet Therapy!
The term Pet Therapy in recent years is often used in wrong contexts. Let’s dispel this myth! Adopting a pet is certainly one of the best ideas you can have and will certainly bring psychophysical benefits, but be careful not to confuse it or pass it off as Pet Therapy.
Pet Therapy doesn’t just mean living with an animal on a daily basis, it is a very complex task that is always supervised by experts and professionals.
It is not just the single relationship that is established between patient and animal, but the whole context that surrounds them is also decisive.