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Article

Effects of Dog-Assisted Education on Physical and Communicative Skills in Children with Severe and Multiple Disabilities: A Pilot Study

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Animal-Assisted Intervention Office, King Juan Carlos University, Móstoles, 28933 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Psychology, King Juan Carlos University, Alcorcón, 28922 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Communication and Sociology Sciences, King Juan Carlos University, Fuenlabrada, 28943 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Statistics and Data Science, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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Physical Activity and Quality of Life Research Group (AFYCAV), Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Extremadura, 10003 Caceres, Spain
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Grupo de Investigacion EFISAL, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, 3460000 Talca, Chile
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Centre for Sport Studies, Rey Juan Carlos University, Fuenlabrada, 28943 Madrid, Spain
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Polly Yeung
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1741; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061741
Received: 1 May 2021 / Revised: 6 June 2021 / Accepted: 8 June 2021 / Published: 10 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Mental Health: Human–Animal Interaction)
Animal-assisted interventions have benefits in different populations, such as children with cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder. In this regard, human–animal interaction leads to different physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits in the child. Therefore, this pilot study aimed to evaluate the effects of a dog-assisted education program on the postural, oculomotor, linguistic, and autonomy dimensions in children affected by severe and multiple disabilities. A total of 14 children aged 3–12 years and affected by intellectual and physical disabilities participated in 12 sessions of the dog-assisted program where participants had to play with dogs. Children who participated in the study improved their postural control, eye-motor coordination, expression of sensations and feelings, spontaneous interaction, autonomy, and confidence.
Animal-assisted interventions have shown promising benefits in different populations such as children with cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder. Human–animal interaction leads to different physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits in the child. The aim of the current pilot study was to evaluate the effects of a dog-assisted education program on the postural, oculomotor, linguistic and autonomy dimensions in children affected by severe and multiple disabilities. Fourteen children aged 3–12 years and affected by intellectual and physical disabilities participated in a dog-assisted program consisted of 12 sessions. The intervention involved different types of activities, exercises, and games with the dogs. A strict protocol to ensure animal wellbeing and avoid any type of stress or fatigue was followed. Children who participated in the study improved their postural control, eye-motor coordination, expression of sensations and feelings, spontaneous interaction, autonomy, and confidence. However, these results must be taken with caution due to the lack of a control group and the heterogeneity of the participants. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal-assisted intervention; animal-assisted educational program; dogs; disability animal-assisted intervention; animal-assisted educational program; dogs; disability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lobato Rincón, L.L.; Rivera Martín, B.; Medina Sánchez, M.Á.; Villafaina, S.; Merellano-Navarro, E.; Collado-Mateo, D. Effects of Dog-Assisted Education on Physical and Communicative Skills in Children with Severe and Multiple Disabilities: A Pilot Study. Animals 2021, 11, 1741. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061741

AMA Style

Lobato Rincón LL, Rivera Martín B, Medina Sánchez MÁ, Villafaina S, Merellano-Navarro E, Collado-Mateo D. Effects of Dog-Assisted Education on Physical and Communicative Skills in Children with Severe and Multiple Disabilities: A Pilot Study. Animals. 2021; 11(6):1741. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061741

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lobato Rincón, Luis L., Beatriz Rivera Martín, María Á. Medina Sánchez, Santos Villafaina, Eugenio Merellano-Navarro, and Daniel Collado-Mateo. 2021. "Effects of Dog-Assisted Education on Physical and Communicative Skills in Children with Severe and Multiple Disabilities: A Pilot Study" Animals 11, no. 6: 1741. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061741

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