Additional Evidence is Needed to Recommend Acquiring a Dog to Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Response to Wright and Colleagues
Caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder are vulnerable to overstated benefits of interventions, and such overstatements are common with interventions involving animals. This response to Wright, Hall, Hames, Hardmin, Mills, the Paws Team, and Mills’ (2015) article, “Acquiring a Pet Dog Significantly Reduces Stress of Primary Careers for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Prospective Case Control Study,” details why that study’s conclusions are premature. Specific limitations of the study are detailed, including overstatements of the supportive literature, problems with the design, and mismatch between the findings and conclusions. The purpose is not to challenge the benefits of pet ownership, but to point out that those benefits have not yet been established.
KeywordsASD Autism Child Family Carer Dogs Intervention
MC initiated the idea for the paper and MC and AK were responsible for the writing and final version.
- Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado (2014). Autistic spectrum disorders. Retrieved from http://www.animalassistedtherapyprograms.org/autistic_spectrum_disorders.html.
- Beck, A. M., & Katcher, A. (1984). A new look at pet-facilitated therapy. Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association, 184, 414–422.Google Scholar
- Cross, J. (2012). Animal magic: How a specially trained dog is helping a young boy with autism to cope with his fears. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224043/Animal-magic-How-dog-transformed-life-quiet-boy-autism.html.
- Isaacson, R. (2009). The horse boy: A father’s quest to heal his son (1st ed.). New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
- Isaacson, R., & Scott, M. O. (2009). The horse boy [Motion picture]. United States: Zeitgeist Films.Google Scholar
- Kazdin, A. E. (2010). Methodological standards and strategies for establishing the evidence base of animal-assisted therapies. In A. H. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Kruger, K. A., & Serprell, J. A. (2006). Animal-assisted interventions in mental health: Definitions and theoretical foundations. In A. H. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Pet Partners. (2014). Pet partners: Touching lives, improving health. Bellevue, WA: Author.Google Scholar
- Wright, H. F., Hall, S., Hames, A., Hardiman, J., Mills, R., Mills, D. S., & Team, P. (2015). Acquiring a pet dog significantly reduces stress of primary carers for children with autism spectrum disorder: A prospective case control study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2418-5.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar