animal assisted intervention

The Synthesis of Encounters among Autistic Children and donkeys: Can a mixed methods design show positive outcomes for both species?

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Date presented: 
Friday 20 May 2016
Abstract

Many studies that regard the effectiveness of animal assisted interventions are in fact only interested in the child, assuming that the animals in the research are a homogenous group whose characters and emotional states don’t play a part.
Both nonverbal autistic children and donkeys communicate with gesture and often with limited vocalisations. Both come from a social species and are sentient. Their individual emotional states must affect the other.
This study places both the nonverbal autistic children and the donkeys that facilitate their intervention as equal participants, thus recording both species responses using a qualitative behaviour analyses tool and a multispecies ethnographic approach.

The synthesis of encounters among autistic children and donkeys: Does this particular form of animal assisted intervention show positive outcomes for both species?

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Date presented: 
Friday 15 April 2016
Abstract

We have seen a rise in research investigating equine assisted interventions to relieve problematic traits in children with autism. Parents have been exposed to promises about the potential changes that such interventions achieves but the evidence for non-verbal complex children with autism has been sadly thin and such research usually assumes equines are a homogenous group without considering that their individual characters and emotional state could play a role in the encounter. Often Autism research focuses on dis-ability rather than the autists’ unique abilities which could provide an alternative lens into AAI. This project aims to mark a new era of multidisciplinary AAI research that answers Birke’s (1) question ‘what’s in it for the animals’ by using The Qualitative Behaviour Assessment tool that includes welfare and emotional state of, in this case, donkeys, Minero et al (2) .A Narrative Inquiry method measures both children and families interpretation of the encounters.
This research aims to identify if the synthesis of encounter between donkey and autistic child can (a) drive a new respect for equine- human sensibility whilst (b) providing a genuine enrichment experience for donkeys living in an animal welfare sanctuary and (c) could these sessions show parents and families the unique potential of their autistic child, evidence of a capacity that could facilitate a better understanding of the child’s perception?

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