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Journal Article

Citation

Van der Steen S, Heineman MMP, Ernst MJA. Animals (Basel) 2019; 9(9): ani9090645.

Affiliation

Department of Psychology, Open University The Netherlands, Heerlen 6400, The Netherlands.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2019, Molecular Diversity Preservation International)

DOI

10.3390/ani9090645

PMID

31484309

Abstract

Multiple authors have called for strong empirical evaluations to strengthen the foundation of Animal-Assisted Interventions. Carefully choosing the outcome measures of these studies is important, as choosing the wrong outcomes may lead to a failure to detect effects. The current study therefore compares and contrasts the use of several outcome measures, to assess the effect of an equine-assisted intervention for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: (1) a semi-structured interview with both parents, specifically designed for children with cognitive disabilities, (2) a general screening instrument filled out by both parents separately, which can be used to assess children's psycho-social problems, and (3) systematic observations of social and communication skills during the equine-assisted sessions. All instruments indicated an improvement in the participant's social and communication skills. We found differences between the interview and questionnaires with regard to parents' perception of aggression regulation and interacting with peers. Differences with regard to parental reports and observations were found for play development and anxiety. The observations provided a detailed view of the child's development during the intervention, which yielded an interesting hypothesis in terms of the current dose-response discussion in AAI for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Language: en

Keywords

autism spectrum disorder; communication; dose–response; equine-assisted intervention; observations; parental report; social skills

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