Can Canine-Assisted Interventions Affect the Social Behaviours of Children on the Autism Spectrum? A Systematic Review

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition impacting individuals’ social communication and interactions. Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) have been identified as practice modalities for children with ASD. A systematic review of the literature was completed identifying 13 articles addressing the impact AAI has on the social behaviours of children with ASD. Participant numbers were small with ages ranging from 3 to 18 years. Outcomes comprised verbal communication, non-verbal communication, identified desired and undesired behaviours. Findings suggested that AAI can have a positive impact on the social behaviours of children on the autism spectrum; however, studies were characterised by methodological weaknesses. More rigorous research methods are required to determine the effectiveness of AAI for children with ASD.

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Acknowledgements

Scholarship: Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.

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Correspondence to Jessica Hill.

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The first author was the recipient of the Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.

JH declares that she has no conflict of interest. JZ declares that she has no conflict of interest. CD declares that she has no conflict of interest. JC declares that she has no conflict of interest.

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animal performed by any of the authors.

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Hill, J., Ziviani, J., Driscoll, C. et al. Can Canine-Assisted Interventions Affect the Social Behaviours of Children on the Autism Spectrum? A Systematic Review. Rev J Autism Dev Disord 6, 13–25 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40489-018-0151-7

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Keywords

  • Animal-assisted interventions
  • Canine-assisted interventions
  • Canine-assisted therapy
  • Autism
  • Children
  • Social behaviours