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Autism: Are trained animals the fix

Updated on April 2, 2012

Autism Spectrum Disorder is becoming an epidemic in the United States. It could be debated that 1 in ever 90 individuals born today will now be born with some form of Autism. In the 1980's the numbers were 1 in ever 10,000 individuals. So what has caused the change better diagnosing, chemicals, shots, food? While noone really knows one thing is for sure some treatments/therapies work better then others.

Classical Model

Applied behavioral therapy the most known model used for working with Autistic children and adult. It uses the basis principles and how behavior works in individuals. This follows with the belief of how learning taks place. So when ones behavior is followed by something that has value a reward is given. When I undesirable behavior happens a task my be given or some or a reward what be given showing a negative consequence. The belief seems to be that given positive reinforces will help improve skills in autistic individuals. I suppose this could be true given that research says intensive therapy over three years using ABA improved ones cognitive and emotional skills.

My thought is that positive reinforcement works to some level in most situations but doesn't always achieve Long term outcomes or actually teach the individual why the tasks is such a good thing. For instance I can teach the value of eye contact by giving a reward every time an individuals looks at my eyes but it is not teaching why eye contact is a desired outcome.

Animal Therapy

Animal therapy may be the most needed and yet underused type of treatment within the Autism community. Research indicates then many animals minds are very similar to that of an autistic individual. Meaningthe animal and the child or adult could in fact have a better connection because of how they process information. Trained autistic therapy dogs can provide both a socializing, educating and safety tool for autisitc children. The animal creates a naturla desire to socialize because hen in the community people will come up and pet the dog or ask questions about the animal. It is an education tool because it allows the individual to learn the importance of feeding, educating and training the dog. It also provides unconditional love to the child. The animals are also trained to help your chld be safe. They can be connected so they keep the children away from roads or evenattempting to elope.

At a cost of 10,000 per 8 yrs of service it is much cheaper alternative to the 40-60kit costs for all services typically needed.


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