Browsing by Subject "dog assisted"

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  • Vainio, Iris (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    In this study my aim was to find out if students' spontaneous communication changes when a therapy dog is present. People with ASD have challenges in communication which appear already early in the childhood. The challenges in communication reach also the area of spontaneous communication and at worst, a person with ASD can lack the ability to spontaneous communication altogether. An assistant dog placed in a family has been documented to improve and increase the communication of a child with ASD. In addition, animal assisted education has been proposed to improve the social skills of children with ASD. Animal assisted interventions have been researched in different kinds of clinical studies and therapy situations. It has been stated that the presence of a dog can increase the inter-action of the person with ASD, first with the dog and later on with humans as well. My research is a qualitative Master's thesis, where my target group was a class of six students of different ages, four of whom had been diagnosed with ASD and two with features of ASD. A therapy dog works in the classroom. For my thesis I filmed video data on four different days when the dog was present and on four days when she wasn't. I wrote transcripts of the data, and searched them for verbal initiations in communication. Based on those findings I did a content analysis and finally counted how many initiations were represented in different classes. I examined the amount of the initiations, to whom they were directed and how the communicative functions could be divided according to the criteria defined by Wetherby and Prizant (1993). I examined first the class as a whole, and later each student individually. The results showed that the presence of the dog increased the spontaneous communication of the students. The spontaneous communication nearly doubled. The spontaneous communication was most often directed to the teaching assistants when the dog was absent. When she was present, more initiations in communication were made towards the whole class. The presence of the dog clearly influenced most of the students in the class. The results show that the amount of spontaneous communication of at least four students increased when the dog was present. In addition, the quality of spontaneous communication enhanced for at least three students when the dog was present. Only one of the students was seemingly unaffected by the support of the dog when it came to spontaneous communication. The results indicated that the communicative functions were divided differently depending on the presence of the dog. In both situations, joint attention was presented most out of all the initiations. When the dog was present the amount of social interaction was increased significantly; when she was absent there was nearly none. The amount of behavior regulation was approximately the same, but when the dog was absent, there was a relative increase in protest towards an object or action. There were also differences when it came to joint attention: When the dog was present, the children commented more on the action, but when she was absent they shared more of their emotions and delight. The subcategory of emotion sharing also includes refusal and expression of negative interest. The greater amount of the initiations related to those explains their growth when the dog was absent.