- About ATTInternational
- AATI Special Programs
The Therapy dogs are prepared for work in programs such groups suffering social limitations or shortcomings etc .
-Autism, PDD, ADD, ADHD
-“The Third Age” – Dementia, Alzheimer’s and similar diseases
-Physically challenged (different levels)
-Groups suffering brain and orthopedic injuries (CVA)
-Groups suffering with social skills problems
etc etc etc
Goals and Objectives in the Dog Program
-Developing traits of loyalty, responsibility, patience, openness, self confidence, team work and more…
-Reinforcing motivation, getting active with the person to better his/her physical, emotional and cognitive state.
-Developing and nurturing the communication between man and dog, while getting to know the dog’s physical, behavioral and emotional disposition.
-Utilizing the bond between man and dog in order to achieve goals set by the professionals (the coaches of the escort) working with him/her.
-Utilizing the bond between man and dog as a tool for improving motor skills and space orientation
-Building a dynamic personal relationship between man and dog, that will serve as a basis for future relationships.
Note: The goals and objectives set are for children, adults, senior citizens and the general population.
-Individual work which includes a participant, a dog, a coach and a therapist ( an educator or a specialist).
-Group work which includes a homogenous group at the same level of functioning: therapy dogs, a coach and a therapist.
-The Program could be ;
-At-home individual work
– Social integration individual work or groups etc
The bond between humans and dogs is age old. In addition to serving as pets, dogs were used for labor such as in guarding, herding, transport (sled dogs), rescue and more. In the past centuries, evidence has been gathered pointing to the importance of animals in general and dogs in particular for the mental and physical well being of humans.
The unique way in which children relate to dogs they are familiar with probably stems from their need to form an emotional bond and a need for control. Through this relationship a child is able to understand, learn and develop emotional and social skills for life. A bond with a dog can decrease the odds of developing mental problems, by reinforcing the child’s ego and developing his/her self-esteem.
Various studies have shown that children perceive the image of a person with a dog as friendly, safe and calming more so than that of a person without a dog. It has also been found the children’s treatment of a handicapped child with a dog to be friendlier and more accepting as opposed to suspicious and rejecting as is often the case when they encounter children with different disabilities. Moreover, children who are different from one another and distant can have a similar emotional reaction to the presence of a dog. These universal reactions can serve as a base for bringing the children closer together, and for developing empathy and sympathy.
The presence of a dog can sooth and support when in distress, as well as increase the child’s sense of control in his/her inner world. In addition, the dog evokes intense emotional reactions in the child and is able to rouse excitement and bring joy. Therapy including the presence of a dog teaches about responsibility, family life, dealing with unavoidable facts of life such as death, illness and, of course, birth and parenting. Out of the mutual dependence between the child and the dog, grows a sense of responsibility, the ability to receive and to give and the concern for others.
The dog is capable of tolerating strange behaviors such as noise, or tantrums, and since he is a live and dynamic he enables the child’s imagination to grow when the latter tries to figure out what the dog is saying, how he is feeling, etc. in that sense, the dog can serve as a loyal friend to the child.
The training is meticulously executed so that the dog can be properly assimilated into the child’s life and his/her family. Various developmental disabilities are relevant for the use of Animal Assisted Therapy Sessions : Autistic children, PDD, CP, Epileptics and more.
When dealing with Autistic children for example, an encounter with a dog can increase level of awareness and alertness to the environment, evoke emotions, enable empathy and the expression of emotions. In addition, the dog is able to acutely understand the child’s non-verbal signals while his own demonstration of signals is clear and direct. These factors can help the Autistic child to bond with the dog as opposed to his/her inability to form a human bond. Due to the child’s inability to care for the dog, guiding the parents in the maintenance of the dog is crucial, as well as reinforcing this bond in the child’s best interest.
There are several possible therapeutic goals when a dog is integrated in a rehabilitative program for children with different developmental disabilities. Of all those specified here, the most relevant goals are chosen for each individual. In correlation to them,we picks the most suitable dog (physically and temperament wise) .
The following are therapeutic goals:
Mental and Social Goals
Form a bond
Increase a sense of control
Increase motivation, curiosity and initiative
Decrease the focus on physical pain, depression and anxiety
Improve social skills
Collaboration within the family unit
Develop awareness of emotions and improve emotional expression skills
Deal with aggression
Improve real-life orientation (the here and now)
Learn correct and appropriate physical contact
Behavioral Rehabilitative Goals
Acquire organizational skills and learn to execute tasks
Improve observational and attention skills
Improve tidiness and order
Improve duration of work
Increase range of motion
Improve fine and gross motor skills
Improve moving in open space
Strengthen the muscles
Improve posture and balance
Diversify sensory stimulation – sight, hearing, smell, touch, closeness and warmth
Increase initiation of verbal expression
Improve theoretical skills and the ability to focus on a subject
In cases of violence – encourage the use of alternative communication. Since the communication with the dog can be non-verbal as well, there is no need for language or words.
Improve attentiveness and concentration
Improve organizational skills of time and space
Improve problem solving skills
Encourage involvement in the environment
Impart thinking skills: collecting data and sorting it
Encourage and exercise reading and writing