Introduction to Animal Assisted Therapy – Autism

Introduction to Animal Assisted Therapy Autism

An Introduction to Animal Assisted Therapy

Part 2

Autism was first recognised by Kanner in 1943 and confirmed by Wing and Gould in 1979 (Volkmar & Pauls 2003). According to the Autism Society of America (2012), autism is a “complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.”

Some people who are classified with ASD have profound challenges and will remain non-verbal, while others will demonstrate traits of brilliance. ASD is a lifelong neurological disorder, which is recognised by substantial deficits in communication and social functioning, as well as repetitive or stereotypical behaviours (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

Amongst the central challenges in autism, there lie significant symptoms, which impact the individuals’ daily life. For example, the failure to develop peer relationships, impairments in reciprocal social interactions, lack of eye contact, sensory oversensitivity and constrained repertoire of activities (Francis 2005).

They will also have the inability to initiate and sustain conversation. These behaviours are most often recognized through preoccupation with specific objects, inflexibility to adhere to routines and substantial repetitive motor movements. As a result, the behaviours can interfere with participation in school, community activities and even at home.

To be continued…

Chanterelle Ibal

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